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Scientists from Stanford University School of Medicine in California have investigated the mechanisms behind hormones and fat cells and they discovered that exposure to stress can have a detrimental effect on your weight.

The researchers identified a hormone called glucocorticoids, which is a naturally occurring steroid hormone that is produced to alleviate inflammation. They found that this particular hormone was boosted by external stimuli, including long-term stress. Scientists revealed that the glucocorticoids hormone levels were related to the human circadian rhythms or human body clock.

They found that glucocorticoids levels spike when we practise exercise or experience marked changes in environmental temperature.

When people disrupt their general routines, through situations such as jet lag or conditions such as insomnia, it simultaneously effects their glucocorticoid secretion.

To reach their conclusions, the scientists used single-cell live imaging to follow the activity of a protein that is known to be associated with the differentiation and maturity of fat cells. They discovered that the protein ignores the regular body clock cycle of glucocorticoid secretion and therefore the circadian cycle is responsible for regulating cellular fat.

To reinforce their findings, the scientists compared the weight of mice over a period of 21 days. They found that the mice that were exposed to increased levels of glucocorticoid became twice the weight of those that were exposed to controlled levels of the hormone.