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Stress activates calorie-burning ‘brown fat’

Brits are stressed for 5 and a half years of their lives

While one study shows that 33% of Brits reach for snacks during times of stress, another piece of research has found higher cortisol levels can actually help burn calories.

A study published in Experimental Physiology says the body’s reaction to stress varies from person to person. While it triggers excessive eating in some, others actually lose weight.

The study authors hypothesize that mild psychological stress activates something called ‘brown fat’, a tissue that increases body heat by burning calories, thus increasing insulin sensitivity and balanced blood sugar levels. Some experts even believe brown fat has the potential to treat obesity.

To test the hypothesis, researchers asked five women to take a series of maths tests followed by a relaxation video. They took saliva samples throughout to measure cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and used infrared thermography to measure temperature changes in areas where brown fat is abundant in humans. Anticipation of being tested increased levels of both cortisol and warmer brown fat, suggesting the two are linked.

Study co-author Michael E Symonds, a professor at The School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham says most adults have between 50 and 100 grams of brown fat. While people with a lower body mass index tend o have higher levels, he believes average amounts may be enough to burn calories.

Read the original article by Medical Daily at