Stress and weight gain: what's the connection?

by Shopify API on Jan 27, 2023

Stress for most people has a direct impact on appetite and, therefore, can often affect body weight. Do you know why it happens?

Acute stress and lack of appetite

If you experience a very stressful situation, you may notice that you have lost your hunger, you may even lose a little weight in a short time. This is because acute stress causes the release of the hormone called norepinephrine and the brake of the lower neuropeptide Y, causing a significant decrease in appetite.

Chronic stress and weight gain

On the other hand, when this stress becomes chronic it causes a quite different hormonal cascade . When you experience long-term stress, our adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol .
In normal situations, the secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands helps us adapt to a stressful situation, but it is very important that the cortisol level returns to its normal situation after the event that caused it has passed.
The problem comes when stress lasts for a long time and becomes chronic, since then cortisol levels remain persistently high and this factor can affect our health and specifically can alter our hunger and metabolism.


Cortisol causes an increase in insulin, which causes the body to store more calories as fat, especially in the abdominal area. On the other hand, high levels of cortisol and insulin also make blood sugar levels more irregular, which can cause greater appetite and desire to eat certain sweet foods. More and more studies have linked chronic stress to weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI), and now you know why: the result of maintaining elevated levels of cortisol and insulin caused by stress for a period of time. prolonged period of time. Unfortunately, this evil of the life we ​​lead affects many of us. Statistical data show that, as occurs with anxiety and depression disorders, the incidence of stress in the world population has increased in recent years . A recent study by the United Nations called stress the “disease of the 20th century” and along the same lines, the WHO defines it as a “Global Epidemic.”