Is The “Stress Hormone” Cortisol Causing You To Gain Weight?

Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the world.  It can be a contributing factor in other diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and dementia. Overeating is often cited as the only reason people are obese. In discussions about weight gain and obesity, many people seem to think that it is purely a function of willpower.

Since what we weigh is, normally, attributed to what we eat we must ask the question:

Is over-eating the only reason a person becomes overweight?

Human behavior is driven by various biological factors like genetics, hormones, stress and neural circuits.  Eating behavior, just like sleeping behavior, is driven by biological processes. Therefore, saying that behavior is a function of willpower is way too simplistic.

Studies have shown that when we are stressed or during tension filled times our body increases its production of the “stress hormone” Cortisol. The increase in Cortisol may be the culprit causing you to overeat.

According to increased levels of the stress hormone  cortisol causes higher insulin levels which then cause your blood sugar to drop making you crave sugary, fatty foods. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite.

Here are some additional factors thought to be the leading causes of weight gain, obesity and metabolic disease that have nothing to do with willpower:

  • Genetics – Obesity has a strong genetic component. Offspring’s of obese parents are much more likely to become obese than offspring’s of lean parents.
  • Insulin – Insulin is a very important hormone that regulates energy storage, among other things. One of the functions of insulin is to tell fat cells to store fat and to hold on to the fat they already carry.  When insulin levels elevate, energy is selectively stored in fat cells instead of being available for use.
  • Medications – Certain medications can cause weight gain as a side effect. Some examples include diabetes medication, antidepressants and antipsychotics. These medications don’t cause a “willpower deficiency,” they alter the function of the body and brain, making it selectively store fat instead of burning it.
  • Leptin –This hormone is produced by the fat cells and is supposed to send signals to the hypothalamus (the part of our brain that controls food intake) that we are full and need to stop eating. The problem for some is their leptin isn’t working as it should because the brain becomes resistant to it.  This is called leptin resistance and is believed to be a leading factor in the pathogenesis of obesity.
  • Thyroid Disease – Thyroid hormone regulates our metabolism. Too little hormone slows the metabolism and often causes weight gain.
  • Cushing syndromeOccurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol for a long time. Cushing syndrome, sometimes called hypercortisolism, may be caused by the use of oral corticosteroid medication. The condition can also occur when your body makes too much cortisol on its own.

A doctor can determine if any of these conditions or treatments is responsible for your obesity.  If you would like to see a physician, please contact the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center to schedule an appointment. 718-206-7001.

 

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Obesity: Lifestyle or Genetics?

“How does she eat so much and not gain any weight?”

It’s a question that has left many puzzled and quite frustrated. The conversation about weight, however, is a longstanding one. Today, especially, weight gain and weight loss remain relevant discussions, as the United States faces an obesity epidemic.

Though several health initiatives to help fight obesity have been implemented over the past few years, it is important to first understand what factors contribute to obesity. According to a National Institutes of Health funded study conducted by UCLA, not only does behavior and environment affect obesity, but genetic factors can also play a significant role in causing obesity.

How our genes actually influence obesity varies. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), genes give the body instruction for responding to changes in its environment. Some research has linked genes to metabolism, pointing out that genetics affects how one’s body responds to high-fat diets. Genes can either cause an increased tendency to store fat or a diminished capacity to use dietary fats as fuel. Other research has suggested that genes influence behaviors, such as overeating and being sedentary.

The conversation about obesity can now change since research has shown that body weight is hereditary and that genetic disposition affects weight. In all efforts to fight obesity, living environments where high calorie foods are prevalent and physical activity is limited should be looked at more closely.

We understand that the road to healthier choices isn’t easy to travel, especially alone. Here at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center our outpatient registered Dietitians assist patients to grow their knowledge about nutrition, wellness and healthy eating. To schedule an appointment the outpatient nutrition services department can be reached directly at .

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Birth Defect Prevention Month

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month. Among the most common birth defects is cleft lip. Cleft lip is a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly in the womb. Collectively, these birth defects commonly are called “orofacial clefts”.

The lip forms between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. A cleft lip develops if the lip tissue does not join completely before birth, resulting in an opening of the upper lip. The opening in the lip varies in size from a small slit or a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose.

The causes of orofacial clefts among most infants are unknown. However, they are thought to be caused by a combination of genetics or other factors, such as things the mother comes in contact with in her environment, or what the mother eats or drinks, or certain medications she uses during pregnancy. Recently the Center for Disease Control reported findings from research studies about risk factors that increase the chance of infant orofacial cleft:

  • Smoking―Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with an orofacial cleft than women who do not smoke
  • Diabetes―Women with diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy have an increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared to women who did not have diabetes
  • Use of certain medicines―Women who used certain medicines to treat epilepsy during the first trimester (the first 3 months) of pregnancy are at greater risk

Orofacial clefts, especially cleft lip with or without cleft palate, can be diagnosed during pregnancy during a routine ultrasound. Services and treatment for children with orofacial clefts can vary depending on:

  • The severity of the cleft
  • The child’s age and needs
  • The presence of associated syndromes
  • Other birth defects

Surgery to repair a cleft lip usually occurs in the first few months of life and is recommended within the first 12 months of life. Children born with orofacial clefts might need other types of treatments and services, such as special dental or orthodontic care or speech therapy.

If you are an expecting mother in need of a doctor, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Obstetrical Division practices family-centered care. The obstetrical unit is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment, including high tech monitors and sonographic equipment. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-6808.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on  and follow us on Twitter 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

OBESITY OR GENETICS

“How does she eat so much and not gain any weight?”

It’s a question that has left many puzzled and quite frustrated. The conversation about weight, however, is a longstanding one. Today, especially, weight gain and weight loss remain relevant discussions, as the United States faces an obesity epidemic.

Though several health initiatives to help fight obesity have been implemented over the past few years, it is important to first understand what factors contribute to obesity. According to a National Institutes of Health funded study conducted by UCLA, not only does behavior and environment affect obesity, but genetic factors can also play a significant role in causing obesity.

How our genes actually influence obesity varies. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), genes give the body instruction for responding to changes in its environment. Some research has linked genes to metabolism, pointing out that genetics affects how one’s body responds to high-fat diets. Genes can either cause an increased tendency to store fat or a diminished capacity to use dietary fats as fuel. Other research has suggested that genes influence behaviors, such as overeating and being sedentary.

The conversation about obesity can now change since research has shown that body weight is hereditary and that genetic disposition affects weight. In all efforts to fight obesity, living environments where high calorie foods are prevalent and physical activity is limited should be looked at more closely.

We understand that the road to healthier choices isn’t easy to travel, especially alone. Here at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center our outpatient registered Dietitians assist patients to grow their knowledge about nutrition, wellness and healthy eating. To schedule an appointment the outpatient nutrition services department can be reached directly at.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Obesity: Lifestyle or Genetics?

“How does she eat so much and not gain any weight?”

It’s a question that has left many puzzled and quite frustrated. The conversation about weight, however, is a longstanding one. Today, especially, weight gain and weight loss remain relevant discussions, as the United States faces an obesity epidemic.

Though several health initiatives to help fight obesity have been implemented over the past few years, it is important to first understand what factors contribute to obesity. According to a National Institutes of Health funded study conducted by UCLA, not only does behavior and environment affect obesity, but genetic factors can also play a significant role in causing obesity.

How our genes actually influence obesity varies. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), genes give the body instruction for responding to changes in its environment. Some research has linked genes to metabolism, pointing out that genetics affects how one’s body responds to high-fat diets. Genes can either cause an increased tendency to store fat or a diminished capacity to use dietary fats as fuel. Other research has suggested that genes influence behaviors, such as overeating and being sedentary.

The conversation about obesity can now change since research has shown that body weight is hereditary and that genetic disposition affects weight. In all efforts to fight obesity, living environments where high calorie foods are prevalent and physical activity is limited should be looked at more closely.

We understand that the road to healthier choices isn’t easy to travel, especially alone. Here at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center our outpatient registered Dietitians assist patients to grow their knowledge about nutrition, wellness and healthy eating. To schedule an appointment the outpatient nutrition services department can be reached directly at .

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.