Last week I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Chris Smith Show on 2GB radio. We discussed a recent study conducted by the Garvan Institute, lead in part by Dr Kenny Ip, which discovered a correlation between weight gain and stress. The study has shown that mice gain weight faster when they ate while stressed, compared to when they ate the same food in a stress-free environment.

As Chris said on the show, these findings were quite surprising as people generally assume that when heart rate is increased (due to stress), you would be more likely to burn calories, not gain them. Dr Ip clarified that while that is true for short-term stress which may be caused by a shock, chronic stress, or anxiety, can in fact cause weight gain.

The mind-body connection has always been a core part of our approach to treatment at the Sydney Anxiety Clinic. The Garvan Institute’s learnings, further enforce what we know about anxiety: that mental health affects your overall wellbeing as much as your physical health. This has many implications, not only for how we approach weight-loss, but for our overall happiness, fulfillment and wellbeing.

Obesity and anxiety are both rising in Australia. This is in part due to the fact that our world today is vastly different to the environment for which we humans were designed. We have gone from picking and eating berries off trees and roaming around the natural environment to a world where we are ‘always on’ and we find it hard to put our phones down. This contributes to us feeling overwhelmed and can cause anxiety. Anxiety can then lead to a need for comfort food to make ourselves feel better. Comfort foods are often high in sugar and highly processed - both types of food contribute to the obesity epidemic.

Prevention is better than cure, so it’s crucial that we are doing things to improve and maintain our wellbeing every day. We need to build healthy habits in order to build our wellbeing. Exercising regularly, spending time with loved ones, sleeping, drinking water and eating nourishing food, are essential to our wellbeing. Healthy habits start with small steps, like choosing to take the stairs instead of the escalator and choosing an apple over a packet of chips as a snack.

If you feel that you are already struggling with anxiety, please get in touch with us today. We are here to help.

To listen to the full episode featuring Dr Jodie Lowinger on the Chris Smith Show on Radio 2GB, check out the show on our media page.