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New study investigates impact of stress on diet failure

Bond University is expanding its focus on diet research with a new study that investigates the link between stress and weight gain.

The latest research will consider how elevations of the hormone cortisol, caused by stress, stimulates appetite and cravings, negatively impacting those trying to drop the kilos.

Bond is looking for 10 lean and 10 obese men and women to take part in the study, which is headed by Bond postdoctoral research fellow Dr Hayley O'Neill and Professor Nuala Byrne.

The new project joins a number of diet studies underway at the university, including the MATADOR2 study, which is investigating if dieting inconsistently can improve outcomes by circumnavigating the 'famine reaction', and other research examining the impact of making and breaking habits on dieting.

Dr O'Neill said elevations in cortisol had been associated with obesity and diet failure and the research aimed to uncover why, by looking at the correlation between the hormone and tissue and cellular activation.

"It is very common for people who are stressed to experience an increased appetite and cravings for sweet and fatty foods, which leads to growth in fat around the stomach region," she said.

"At the same time, increased levels of cortisol promotes muscle loss.

"These two factors are believed to have a dual negative impact on dieters' ability to lose weight.

"With modern lifestyles becoming more stressful and the act of dieting in itself linked to feelings of pressure and anxiety, it is important that we fully understand why and how these changes occur so we can promote effective programs to help dieters' succeed."

Dr O'Neill said participants would be required to attend Bond two to three times over the course of the study for testing, sample collections and to complete questionnaires assessing sleep quality and perceived stress and anxiety levels.

Men and women aged between 18 and 60 years of age, with a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m2 or less than 24.9 kg/m2 are eligible to participate. 

Find out more information about who is eligible to volunteer. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Dr O'Neill on [email protected]

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