Can Stress Cause Weight Gain? Ways to Stop Stress

By: Women's Care Staff

Stress can creep up on you at any moment. Whether you’re having a busy day at work or are stuck in rush-hour traffic, stress is sometimes unavoidable. Before you immediately look into ways to stop stress, know having some minor stressors in your life can benefit you. However, you may the scale go up when you deal with bouts of increased stress. If you ask yourself, “Can stress cause weight gain?” the unfortunate answer is yes. Although a little stress is okay, too much of it can lead to health issues such as weight gain and obesity. In fact, a study published in the journal Obesity found a link between high-stress levels and greater body weight.

The correlation between stress and weight gain

The study looked at over 2,500 men and women over the age of 50. Researchers measured stress by a person’s cortisol levels, a stress hormone found in a 2-centimeter hair clipping (two month’s worth of hair growth), according to a New York Times article about the study.

When researchers asked themselves can stress cause weight gain, they planned to look at the amount of cortisol and the level of obesity. As a result, they found that the higher the cortisol levels, the greater the body weight.

In this particular study, researchers found a correlation but did not determine causation. In other words, they noted that they could not determine whether the high cortisol levels were a cause or a consequence of obesity. However, other studies have shown that high stress prompts people to turn to high-calorie “comfort foods.” Ever heard of the term “stress eating?” Well, there’s a lot of truth to that.

Ways to stop stress

Many ways to stop stress exist. Find alternate, healthier ways to cope instead of turning to food or binge-watching TV. Prevent stress and weight gain by following some of these helpful, stress-relieving tips:


All you need is a few minutes a day to relax the mind and meditate. Find a quiet place to sit. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. Try not to let any unwanted thoughts cloud your mind.

Listen to Music

Studies show that listening to music can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Either find music that will soothe your soul or crank up the beat and dance your worries away.


You don’t just have to hit the gym to relieve stress. Walking, riding a bike, taking a yoga class, etc. are all great ways to get your blood pumping and your body moving. Exercise helps to release chemicals that make your body and mind feel good. Even a quick walk around the block will get the blood pumping and help take your mind off of what’s wrong.

Be Mindful

Being mindful is a difficult thing to do, but it can help. It means to essentially “slow down time” and to appreciate the little things in life. Notice the sun shining down on your skin, or feel the cold water as you splash into a pool. Not only will this help reduce stress, but it may give you a greater appreciation for your life.

If you’re wondering can stress cause your weight gain and want assistance, check out one of Women’s Care’s weight loss programs. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our highly-skilled experts today.

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