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Stress and weight gain
“Stress can be defined as a feeling of being overwhelmed, worried or run-down. Stress can
affect people of all ages, genders and circumstances and can lead to both physical and
psychological health issues” (American psychological association 2017). “Perceived stress
has been defined as the extent to which persons perceive (appraise) that their demands exceed
their ability to cope” (Cohen et al 1986).Psychosocial stress or perceived stress has been
identified as a risk factor for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and even cancerous
conditions. Stress may also lead to changes in dietary habit that may lead to weight change
(Goswami, 2017).
A survey conducted among first-year students in Germany (N = 696), Poland (N = 489) and
Bulgaria (N = 654) have shown that 65.3% of the study sample was female who had
displayed higher scores of depressive symptoms and perceived stress than males. Studies
have shown a complex relationship between stress and anthropometric profile. A study in
United Kingdom showed stress-weight change association was strongly among women (Anna
et al 2007). In a recent study conducted among Indian medical students, no significant
difference between the levels of perceived stress among males and females was observed.
Though the prevalence of overweight and obesity was not high but they reported strong
relationship between the perceived stress and body weight. The study proposed that among
women 3.6% of women were obese and 15.9 % were overweight and 36.2 %were highly
stressed and 21.7 % were moderately stressed (Goswami 2017). “The stress response, which
maintains stability of physiological and behavioural change is comprised of a cascade of
adaptive responses originating in the central nervous system as well as in the periphery. It
leads to dramatic but time-limited physiological, psychological and behavioural changes that
affect appetite, metabolism and feeding behaviour, Excess cortisol concentrations have been
associated with visceral fat accumulation”(Adam et al 2007).Stress and eating behaviour
If stress causes some individuals to consume food in excess of requirements, then this may
culminate in weight gain and obesity. In a study (T.C.Adam et al 2007) proposed a theoretical
model of Reward Based Stress Eating. This model emphasizes the role of cortisol and reward
circuitry on motivating calorically dense food intake, and elucidating potential
neuroendocrine mediators in the relationship between stress and eating.
But to understand the intricate explanation of the major cause and effect relationship of stress
and weight gain the search is still going on.Sleep deprivation and weight gain
“Sleep deprivation is defined as not obtaining adequate total sleep. When someone is in a
chronic sleep-restricted state they’ll notice excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness,
and weight gain or weight loss. In addition, being sleep-deprived affects both the brain and
cognitive function” (American Sleep Association 2017).Physiologic studies suggest sleep
deprivation may influence weight through effects on appetite, physical activity, and/or
thermoregulation, short sleep duration predicted higher weight gain independent of other
factors weight (Patel et al 2008).One of the easiest and commonly used tools to assess this
imbalance is anthropometric measurement (Priya et al 2017). Other investigations in Quebec
reported that in 6 years long prospective study, the average weight gain of short-duration
sleepers was 88% more than the weight gain of average-duration sleepers. Similarly, shortduration sleepers experienced a 58% and 124% higher increase in waist circumference and
percentage of body fat, as compared with average-duration sleepers, respectively (Chaput et
al 2007).
In an experimental study it have been observed that subjects with sleep restriction (?4 hours)
gain more weight than the subject who have slept for 10 hours. Also the calorie intake of the
experimental subjects were high as compared to the control group (Speath et al 2013).In an
investigating of mortality risk with sleeping patterns among adults, it was observed that both
men and women, who were sleeping 7 or 8 hour per night had the lowest death rates at almost
every age. After adjusting for age differences, men sleeping 6 h or less or 9 h or more per
night had 1.7 times the death rate of men sleeping 7 or 8 hours per night. The relative risk for
women was 1.6 times (Wingard & Berkman, 1983).In a recent study it was reported that
More than 39% of the students reported short sleep duration (?6 h/day) and over 30%
reported moderate to extreme sleep problems (Peltzer & Pengpid 2017).Sleep Deprivation and dietary Intake
Results revealed that young males and females encountered sleep problems, higher problem
was in age 21 to 32 groups. A significant positive correlation was found between sleep status
and nutrient intakes, indicating subjects with insomnia eat less quantity of food thereby low
nutrient intakes. (Zadeh et al2011).
The most plausible explanation to date of the sleep duration–body weight relationship is an
alteration of the neuroendocrine control of appetite characterized by a decrease in the levels
of the anorexigenic hormone leptin and an increase in the levels of the orexigenic factor
ghrelin.
Studies shows that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart
disease, depression and obesity. One of the findings in study of Jowarhat medical students
reported high perceived stress is associated with a risk ratio of 1.27 for incident CHD
(Goswami 2017). It is useful to compare the magnitude of the increased risk associated with
high perceived stress to those of traditional cardiovascular risk factors (Richardson et al
2012).Physical activity, stress and sleep
A survey conducted in Korean adolescents (n=7,328) reported that there was a significant
association between the physical activity and the sleep satisfaction as well as coping with the
stress well also the subjects who were more physically active reported less stress levels (Park,
2014).In another study on Saudi female students reported strong co relation between
increased physical activity level and improved psychological factors like stress (Eisa.,
Buragadda.,&Melam .R.G.,2014).It was also observed in a study that less duration of sleep at
night leads to fatigue the following morning and hence leads to low physical inactivity as
well (Patel 2008).Internet usage and sleep
A survey conducted in Korea confirmed that problematic usage of internet also known as
high internet addiction leads to less sleep satisfaction due to deprivation in sleeping hours
also it affects the physical activity level among the respondents (Park,2014).Research in
Europe countries also revealed that problematic internet usage is strongly co-related with
elevated body mass index (BMI)(Eisa , Buragadda ,& Melam ,2014).American Academy of
Sleep Medicine, and diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine proposed staying up
late on-line seems to be one of the fastest growing threats to good sleep.RATIONALE
College students spends most of the time balancing classes, tests, projects, extra-curricular
activities and work which are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed, especially with final
exams right around the corner. Going off to college involves significant adjustments to
student’s daily routine, sleeping and eating habits, time-management skills, and stress levels
will be altered in one way or another.
For a student, stress may be caused by failure in academic or sports, financial problems,
health problems or loss of a family member or close friend. Such events that bring stress are
called stressors(Elias H.et al 2011).Survey conducted in united states reported that final-year
students were found to be the most stressful group among the undergraduate students(Elias et
al 2011).The final-year students were also in moderate levels of stress but among the
undergraduate students, they scored the highest. This may be due to the higher level of
university education which causes more academic stress.
Studies have shown a common relationship between stress, sleep deprivation and
anthropometric profile of a person. Sleep of less than 6 hours was strongly correlated with the
BMI of ? 30 kg/m2and a strong co relation have been found between the higher body weight
with the perceived stress(Hasler et al 2003 ; Goswami.B.et al 2017).Since the problem of
overweight and obesity is still prevalent among the college students. In a survey of
undergraduate students reported that students those who lived off campus were more likely to
be overweight or obese (41%) than were those who lived on campus (25%) or with parents
(Brunt, Rhee & Zhong 2008). In other study it was also observed that the most important life
style factors responsible for obesity were, long time spent using computer, eating more
during time of stress and snacking between meals, sedentary lifestyle is contributing factor in
increased BMI and sedentary activities include reading, studying and computer use are the
major contributors among the sedentary lifestyle of American undergraduate students
(Buckworth 2004).
As discussed, above studies shows a positive relationship between the stress and sleep
deprivation with weight gain. A higher weight gain will result in overweight and obesity
which are the risk factors of several non-communicable diseases. Also as students are
exposed to stress due to their academic performance and assignments and work load which
leads to less sleep duration among the students. In addition sedentary behaviour, less physical
activity and poor intake of diet may also influence their body weight. In this ever developing
technological world, use of internet and social networking site have been increased.
Adolescents and young people are more prone to spend time on the social networking sites
which may have an effect on the Physiological status. But there are limited studies which
focuses on stress level and sleep deprivation with weight gain among the undergraduate
students, therefore it would be important to study the association of stress and sleep
deprivation with weight gain. This information can be useful to understand whether or not
stress and sleep deprivation is a risk factor for overweight and obesity among the
undergraduate students of Delhi University. Therefore present study focussed on the
perceived stress level and sleep duration along with taking into consideration the subject’s
Anthropometric profile, their dietary pattern and behaviour, their Physical activity level and
time spent on internet and the level of internet addiction.