Stress stimulates the production of a protein that slows down the body's ability to metabolize stored fat.
Reducing stress may help people lose weight, said researchers who found its effect on the body's fat metabolism. Photo by wernerimages/Shutterstock
GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A protein related to stress makes it difficult to lose weight by slowing down the body's ability to burn fat, according to a new study at the University of Florida.
Chronic stress stimulates the production of betatrophin, a protein that suppresses an enzyme that breaks down stored fat, the researchers reported, suggesting stress reduction may help people lose more weight.
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"Betatrophin reduces the body's ability to break down fat, underscoring a link between chronic stress and weight gain," said Dr. Li-Jun Yang, a professor at the University of Florida, in a press release. "Stress causes you to accumulate more fat, or at least slows down fat metabolism. This is yet another reason why it's best to resolve stressful situations and to pursue a balanced life."
Researchers working on the study performed experiments on cells from mice and humans to learn the role of betatrophin. By inducing environmental and metabolic stress on mice, the researchers were able to show the stress influencing increased betatrophin production in fat tissue and the livers of the rodents.
Increased production of betatrophin, the researchers observed, suppresses adipose triglyceride lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat -- slowing the animal's ability to burn fat and lose weight.
Yang said further research will be done to test how betatrophin affects fat metabolism in humans.