09:59am Monday 06 July 2020

Eating leads to stress hormone response in men with high body fat

Dr Anne TurnerDr Anne Turner, Senior Lecturer, C-PAN

A recent C-PAN study published in BMC Obesity found that men who had a higher level of body fat actually had a higher stress hormone response in their body after eating a standardised lunch, compared to lean men.

“We found that men who were even moderately overweight or obese had a higher cortisol or stress hormone response to eating the lunch than lean men.

“This isn’t like the stress that we get from busy lives and financial pressures; it is our body’s physical response when we eat food. Eating places a demand on our body and we usually eat a meal three times a day, so it is important to understand how our body reacts when we eat food and just what influence body fat may have.

“If overweight or obese men’s bodies react this way after every meal, they may be at increased risk of developing stress-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in the long term,” said Dr Turner.

The 36 men in the study were aged between 50 to 70 years. They provided saliva samples and had their blood pressure and heart rate checked before the meal and regularly in the two hours during and following the lunch. The test meal made by the participants themselves, was 22 per cent protein, 53 per cent carbohydrates and 25 percent fat and included bread, margarine, processed meat (ham or chicken), tomato, cucumber, cheese, nuts, fruit bars and a fruit juice drink and water.

Dr Turner said the lunch in the study is similar to the average Australian meal for men (22 per cent protein, 45 per cent carbohydrate and 32 per cent fat) as reported in the 1995 National Nutrition Survey.

“The results of our study do suggest that even a very normal lunch can elicit a significant stress hormone response in overweight or obese men and if this happens on a regular basis it may lead to health concerns for these men.

“This research gives men one more reason to be shedding any extra kilos they may be carrying and Men’s Health Week is the ideal time to consider making changes for better health,” she said.

C-PAN’s work in physical activity and nutrition is leading the world globally in numerous areas including research into disadvantaged communities, children’s health and healthy ageing.

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Katie Thompson
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03 9244 5256, 0418 839 638

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