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Thanks to scientists in Sweden, I now have the perfect excuse for my total failure to have achieved the must-have ‘beach body’ look this year… the continuous rumble of the air con at work is making me eat biscuits.
Well, that’s my slightly warped interpretation of research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which actually found a link between constant high noise levels of trains, planes and automobiles and the waistlines of those who lived nearby.
Tummy sizes expanded by 21mm for every five decibels louder the noise became. According to the scientists, noise pollution from traffic could be disrupting sleep and raising cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which could both be responsible for weight gain round the tummy.
Dr. Andrei Pyko, the lead study author said: “Traffic noise may influence metabolic and cardiovascular functions through sleep disturbances and chronic stress. Sleep disturbances may affect immune functions, influence the central control of appetite and energy expenditure as well as increase circulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”
So surely having to listen to the stress-inducing constant air con drone is behind my need to consume additional calories each day right?
Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Fat Around The Middle offers some other reasons we could be gaining weight…
“Artificial sweeteners which are found in diet drinks and foods can make you gain weight and increase your appetite, which is ironic really when most people are using them thinking they can help control their weight. But because they taste sweet, but have no calories, your body gets confused. When your body tastes something sweet, it expects to receive a bulk of calories, but the artificial sweeteners don’t provide the calories, so your body makes you crave those calories from other foods to make up the difference – and you can end up eating more.”
“Dieting can make you put on weight because your body thinks there is a famine going on, it doesn’t know you have reduced your calories deliberately. So your body slows your metabolism and holds onto fat stores. When you go back to eating normally, the weight loss [which is muscle and water] goes back on as fat, so you can actually get fatter after crash dieting.”
Lack of sleep
“If you are not getting enough sleep, your body will produce more of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, and less leptin, which makes you feel full, so lack of sleep makes it much harder to lose weight. One study showed that people on a diet who slept for eight and a half hours lost 55% more body fat than those who slept for just five and a half hours.
“Not only does sleep deprivation make it harder for your body to let go of fat, but it also makes you hungrier the next day, triggering cravings for sweets and refined white carbohydrates as you search for something to give yourself a quick lift.”
“We tend to gain weight anyway as we get older because we lose muscle, which slows down our metabolism and makes it harder to lose weight. But during and after the menopause, our bodies often put on extra weight especially around the middle. Fat is a manufacturing plant for oestrogen, so as you go through the menopause, your oestrogen levels are falling and your body knows that any oestrogen your fat cells can produce will help protect your bones from osteoporosis.”
“Research has shown that people who skip breakfast can gain more weight than those who don’t. If you miss breakfast completely, your body immediately registers famine and hangs on tight to your ample stores of fat.”
Eating on the run
“It gives your body the message that time is scarce, you are under pressure and stressed. Furthermore, your digestive system will be less efficient. Make a point of sitting down and eating your food as calmly as possible.”