Can stress lead to obesity or metabolic disease

Staff- Dr Michael Patterson, Dr Adele Costabile, Prof Jolanta Opacka-Juffry (Honorary Fellow)

Stress affects us all in different ways; however there is a significant association between chronic stress and disruption of the systems regulating metabolism and eating behaviour. In 2015 University of Roehampton was awarded a prestigious scholarship (2016-18) from the Brazilian Government’s Science Without Borders - Ciência sem Fronteiras scheme to allow Simone Carneiro Nascimento to perform ground breaking research in this area under the expert supervision of Professor Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, Dr Michael Patterson (University of Roehampton) and Professor Chris Pryce (University of Zurich). This international collaboration has yielded some exciting results. Simone has found that social stress alters the regulation of feeding behaviour, glucose metabolism, and the neurochemical signals in our brain that signal reward after food and other pleasurable experiences. Further analysis in collaboration with Dr Adele Costabile (University of Roehampton) identified changes in the gut microbiota, which may contribute to multiple effects of stress, including those affecting metabolism.  These results help us understand how stress can increase the risk of metabolic disease. The research team have recently published these findings in two international peer review journals, Psychoneuroendocrinology and IBRO Neuroscience Reports. The researchers are now performing further investigations to better understand the physiological mechanisms behind these effects.