Stress and the NPY Molecule: How it Drives Overeating and Weight Gain

Researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, in their study published on June 8, 2023, have unveiled a significant connection between chronic stress and the consumption of high-calorie comfort foods, ultimately leading to weight gain. Their investigation sheds light on how stress dampens the brain’s natural ability to recognize satiety, primarily affecting the lateral habenula region. This disruption results in a continuous stream of reward signals, encouraging the consumption of delectable but calorie-rich foods. The researchers have also pinpointed the NPY molecule, a substance naturally produced by the brain in response to stress, as a central element in this process.

In moments of stress, it’s common for individuals to turn to high-calorie snacks for comfort. However, this coping mechanism carries an unhealthy consequence. According to the Sydney-based scientists, the combination of stress and calorie-dense “comfort” foods initiates neurological changes that not only intensify the desire for sweet and highly appealing foods but also compel individuals to eat more, ultimately leading to significant weight gain.


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