Women’s Health Network: Study Reveals a Significant Increase in Stress & Cravings

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Leading women's health website, Women’s Health Network, reveals stress as a key rising factor leading to cravings and weight gain in a recent study analyzing profiles from women ages 25-70 comparing 2007/2008 to 2016.

Woman on laptop with high stress and cravings

Recent study shows women reporting much higher levels of severe cravings which directly correlate with the increase in reported chronic stress in women today.

In the chemistry of our bodies, cravings are triggered by stress-induced hormonal imbalance. The more stressed we feel emotionally and physically, the more cortisol the body produces – and high levels of cortisol lead to cravings.

More stress = more cravings. Women report much higher levels of severe cravings compared to a decade ago. Researchers believe that stress is the culprit, and that the study shows once again that willpower is not the obstacle to weight gain.

In a cross-sectional study of 20,000 women conducted by Women’s Health Network, there was a 42% increase in those reporting very severe cravings. There were also increases in the frequency of cravings. At the same time, 22% more women report chronic stress.

"We’ve got to move past blaming cravings on women’s lack of willpower,” says Dr. Sarika Arora, MD, a specialist in Internal and Functional Medicine. “In the chemistry of our bodies, cravings are triggered by stress-induced hormonal imbalance. The more stressed we feel emotionally and physically, the more cortisol the body produces – and high levels of cortisol lead to cravings.”

Even when women are “doing everything right” — exercising frequently, tracking what they eat and drinking a lot of water — they may still experience severe cravings due to too much cortisol, Arora adds.

“Women of all ages tell us their cravings feel like a constant battle,” says Sarah McEachin, customer service manager at Women’s Health Network. “They say they are anxious, exhausted or not sleeping well and constantly fighting intense sugar cravings.”

Hormonal imbalance occurs as a result of extreme fluctuations in women’s sex hormones and most often takes place during PMS, perimenopause and menopause. In addition to cravings, symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance include anxiety and stress-related symptoms, hot flashes, weight gain, irregular periods and fatigue, among others.

Key findings of the study

The statistics on cravings and stress come from a cross-sectional review of hormonal imbalance symptoms and how they are changing over a nearly 10-year period. According to the study:

  •     A significant number of women – 42% – are reporting an increase in severity of cravings as a symptom.
  •     Another 17% are reporting an increase in the frequency of cravings.
  •     22% more women are reporting regularly experiencing stress in their daily lives, a factor that experts say plays an important role in uncontrollable cravings.

About the hormonal health profile analysis

Using a standardized hormonal health profile, women were asked to record details of their individual experiences with 20 common symptoms by ranking symptom severity on a standard Likert scale, ranging from “none” to “severe.”

In the analysis, 10,000 profiles completed by women ages 25 to 70 in 2016 were compared to 10,000 profiles taken by similarly-aged women in 2007-2008. According to the analysis of these 20,000 women, those aged 25 to 70 now are reporting significant differences in the type and severity of their symptoms, when compared to women of similar ages in 2007-2008.

About Women’s Health Network

Women’s Health Network is the leading on-line resource (http://www.womenshealthnetwork.com) devoted to the natural approach to women’s health. The site includes articles by medical experts (MDs, DOs, NDs and PhDs), free health profiles and quizzes for the most significant women’s health issues, plus an extensive line of supplements and other products. More than one million women have completed one or more of the hormonal health profiles.

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Chelsea Galipeau
Concordia Partner's LLC
+1 207-221-0632
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