This is what four years of stress does to your body

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Stress is everywhere, and it's not easy to avoid. But if you're particularly stressed, there's a good chance you're more likely to be overweight.

People who suffer from long-term stress in particular could be more prone to obesity, according to new research.

Researchers from University College London examined the amount of our stress hormone in 2,500 adults – with an average age of 68 – over four years.

They took a lock of hair from participants, and examined their weight, body mass index (BMI) and measurements. This demonstrated how their weight related to the levels of cortisol in their bodies that had built up over the previous two months.

The researchers found that those with higher levels of cortisol in their hair were, on average, larger around the waist, heavier, and had a higher BMI.

Carrying fat around the abdomen is particularly unhealthy, as it can increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Those classified as obese also tended to have particularly high levels of cortisol, according to the paper, published in the journal Obesity.

Higher levels of cortisol were also associated with the persistence of obesity over the four years.

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