(HealthDay News) — Prior day stressors and depression alter metabolic responses to high-fat meals, according to a study published online in Biological Psychiatry.

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues examined the impact of daily stressors and a history of major depressive disorder on obesity-related metabolic responses to high-fat meals.

Before and after two high-fat meals, the researchers conducted serial assessments of resting energy expenditure, fat and carbohydrate oxidation, triglycerides, cortisol, insulin and glucose. Participants included 58 healthy women (38 breast cancer survivors and 20 demographically similar controls) who were randomly assigned to receive a high saturated fat meal or a high oleic sunflower oil meal.

Continue Reading

The researchers found that there was lower postmeal resting energy expenditure (P=.008), lower fat oxidation (P=.04) and higher insulin (P=.01) in association with greater numbers of stressors, whereas nonsignificant effects were seen for cortisol and glucose (P=.25 and .33, respectively).

Higher cortisol (P=.008) and higher fat oxidation (P=.004) were seen for women with prior major depressive disorder, but there were no significant effects for resting energy expenditure, insulin and glucose (P=.26, .25 and .38, respectively).

Compared with other participants, women with a depression history who also had more prior day stressors had a higher peak triglyceride response (P=.01).

“These findings illustrate how stress and depression alter metabolic responses to high-fat meals in ways that promote obesity,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Kiecolt-Glaser JK et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2014;doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.05.018.