We all know what builds us fat: eating more in calories than we burn off in energy. But though this is true, it doesn’t answer the more interesting question – why do we overeat in the first place?
Why do I sometimes feel compelled to eat that bit of cake or bar of chocolate although I know I am going to regret it a few minutes later?
Is it just greed – or is something else going on?
Although self-control is important, there is mounting evidence that stress plays a significant part in weight gain.
Chronic stress disrupts our sleep and our blood sugar levels. This leads to increased hunger and convenience feeing.
And that then leads to further disrupted sleep, even higher levels of stress and even more disrupted blood sugars. In time, this can lead not only to unhealthy levels of body fat, but also to type-2 diabetes.
To see what can happen, Dr Giles Yeo, a member of the Trust Me, I’m a Doctor team, decided, with the help of scientists from Leeds University, to set himself through a particularly stressful day.
The Leeds scientists started by asking Giles to do something called the Maastricht Stress Test.
They set him in front of a computer and induced him rapidly subtract a number, 17, from another number, 2,043. He maintained building missteps, which for someone like Giles is particularly stressful.
Then they got him to set his hand in a bath of ice-cold water and hold it there. Before and after these tests, the Leeds team measured Giles’s blood sugar levels.