Bruising experiences in middle age -- the cruel boss, ill parents, divorce -- cause women to gain weight, and it's not just because they eat more or exercise less, a large study reports today.
'Under stress, people conserve more fat, and we think that may be what's going on here,' says psychologist Ten Lewis of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She and co-author Lynda Powell are expected to report findings from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting in Vancouver, B.C.
The study tracks the health and mental health of premenopausal women from their 40s through menopause. Researchers asked more than 2,000 women about unhappy life events they had experienced in the past year. They also gathered information on diets, exercise habits, smoking and menstrual periods.
But even after taking into account many factors that could influence weight, four years later the women who faced lots of stress weighed significantly more than the less stressed. The more bad things they reported in the year before the study, the more weight they had gained over the four years, the researchers found.
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