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The anxiety-waistline connection

by Michael Roizen, M.D., Mehmet Oz, M.D. | April 2, 2018 at 10:37 p.m. | Updated April 2, 2018 at 10:37 p.m.

In an episode of "The Mindy Project," Mindy Kaling has an argument with her boyfriend and starts eating a hunk of cookie dough. "Oh, cookie dough, please solve my problems," she begs the fast-disappearing sweet. A colleague notices her and asks, "Stress eating again?"

Emotions and eating are joined at the hip (or the waist), according to a new study published in the journal Menopause. It seems researchers found that women who are generally anxious also have larger waistlines.

Scientists enrolled 5,580 middle-aged women and used an accepted anxiety-depression scale to evaluate their level of anxiety and measured their waist-to-height ratios. The researchers then divided the women into three waistline groups (smallest, middle, largest) based on their waist-to-height ratio. Lo and behold, 55 percent of those with the smallest waistline were anxiety-prone; 59.7 percent of those in the middle group had anxiety; and a whopping 68.4 percent of women with the largest waistlines contended with anxiety and physical symptoms.

Which came first, the chicken (waistline) or the egg (anxiety), we don't know. But we bet excess visceral fat around the waistline stokes up inflammation and possibly neuro-emotional responses such as anxiety. And there's mounting evidence that excess fat correlates to a disrupted gut biome, where gut feelings, like anxiety, are a real result.

The good news? By eliminating inflammatory, gut-biome-disrupting processed foods, added sugars and red meat, then exercising 150 or more minutes weekly, you can shrink your waistline and inflammation, help rebalance your gut biome and have a calmer outlook on life.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

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