Bad eating habits isn’t the only thing that will make you fat. The stress of life will contribute significantly as well.
Studies of monkeys reveal an amazing parallel to human society. Carol A. Shively, PhD, and colleagues at Wake Forest University saw that those monkeys at the bottom of the pecking order in a monkey colony get blocked arteries much faster than the other monkeys. All of them in the study were fed the same high-fat diet.
The parallel to human society, of course, is that the poor are much more often heavier than the well-to-do. Being at the bottom rung of the social ladder has its stresses, human or animal.
“We wanted to know more about how the stress outside of you gets turned into plaque inside of your arteries,” says Shively. “So we looked at why stress caused atherosclerosis in our monkeys.”
A more recent study corroborated these findings, as the same research group fed stressed monkeys an American-style high-fat diet, and they ended up with more belly fat that those monkeys who did not exhibit stress.
But maybe the most interesting part of the study was that the fat didn’t just go anywhere. It gathered at the belly on the stressed monkeys.
Harold Bays, MD, medical director of the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center dubs this “sick fat.”
It’s like it has a life of its own.
“Your body fat can become diseased like any other body tissue,” Bays says. “Your fat cells are getting bigger and your fat tissue is getting bigger and neither the cells nor the tissues work as well as they should. The fat is sick.”