Anxiety Gene That Makes Us Comfort Eat, Anxiety Food Addiction

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Yes that’s right, it looks like there’s a scientific base to comfort eating and it’s not just all in your head after all according to the results of a recent Israeli study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, claim to have found a single “anxiety gene” or “anxiety switch” that causes stress and increases food cravings for sweet things.

Dr Alon Chen, who is a neuro-endocrinologist at the Institute, said “In essence, stress may be turning us fat”.

“Stress is definitely influencing every system in the body,” said Dr Chen. “It’s not just causing anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder but is influencing metabolic syndromes such as obesity.”

Ok so what can we do about it, stress is such a normal part of everyday living for most of us these days we can’t seem to get away from it, which may be partly why there are so many people in the western world getting fatter, which in turn is leading to an increase in the number of people with diabetes.

If we don’t do something, apparently around 360 million people will be suffering from diabetes over the next 20 years.

It was already known that there was a link between stress, anxiety and comfort eating but until now no one has been able to properly explain that link.

“This new research may be the important missing link that can help drug developers create drugs targeting stress that could have multiple side-benefits, like preventing diabetes, promoting heart health and keeping our weight down” said Dr Chen.

“We showed that the actions of a single gene in just one part of the brain can have profound effects on the metabolism of the whole body.”

Dr Chen said that he and his researchers had discovered a gene called Urocortin-3 (Ucn3) which is responsible for causing anxiety and metabolic changes including type II diabetes in animals.

“In the lab, stressed animals eat less. But in humans some eat more or less when stressed. What’s key here is that food preference is changing,” he explains.

“This mechanism, which appears to be a “smoking gun” tying stress levels to metabolic disease, might, in the future, point the way toward the treatment or prevention of a number of stress-related diseases.”

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