Nearly half of Americans have gained 17 pounds because of stress

NEW YORK — Is stress ruling your life? Nearly half of Americans believe they’ll never feel stress-free ever again. A new poll of 2,000 people over the age of 30 revealed 57 percent of people feel stress more frequently now than they did five years ago and 47 percent live an unhealthier life because of the stress they experience.

Over four in 10 (43%) admitted to dealing with their stress in unhealthy ways, including sitting inactively and thinking about what stresses them out (37%) or turning to food for comfort (30%). Half the poll said stress has an effect on their social life and another 44 percent said it has an effect on their work life.

Commissioned by Nutrisystem and conducted by OnePoll, the study found most are often stressed by their general health (36%), the amount of money they make (36%), or their job (34%). One in four (26%) are worried about their weight, specifically.

They also shared how stress affects their day-to-day life: losing sleep (46%), not being able to concentrate (37%), their blood pressure increasing (30%), and their weight increasing (24%). Four in 10 (43%) have gained weight because of stress, gaining an average of 17 pounds.

“A little bit of stress in our lives is oftentimes unavoidable, but constant stress that doesn’t let up can take a toll on both our mental and physical health,” says Courtney McCormick, a registered dietitian at Nutrisystem, in a statement. “From a physical standpoint, emotional or ‘stress’ eating can cause unwanted weight gain as we turn to food for comfort without thinking about just how much we’re consuming.”

stress weight gain 

A third of the survey (34%) said when they get stressed, they tend to spiral — the act of something bad causing them to do something that perpetuates that bad thing to keep happening.

On average, people said they experience feelings of stress three days per week and if overstressed, 61 percent try to take a break away from their obligations to destress — taking three days to do so. Thirteen percent claimed they can never fully destress.

The survey also found 52 percent of people have had health issues caused by experiencing stress. Those respondents shared instances of physical pain (58%), mental health impacts (51%), and weight gain (40%).

Despite the health implications of stress, 30 percent said they don’t talk to their doctor about their stress and three percent would never even consider it. Still, 40 percent have talked to their doctor about their stress and 53 percent claimed to have experienced growth after going through stressful situations. Of them, stress has encouraged them to learn to manage their emotions better (65%), know what can trigger stress for themselves (42%), eat better (35%), take medications (28%), or see a therapist (20%).

“Stress may always be part of our life, but it doesn’t have to define our life,” adds McCormick. “Recognizing what causes stress and working to overcome it is the first step toward leading a healthier lifestyle. Things like spending time in nature, going for a run or taking a walk can all have a positive impact on lessening stress and help us get back to feeling our best selves.” 

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans aged 30 and above was commissioned by Nutrisystem between May 3 and May 7, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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  1. Is it any wonder? The media spews nothing but war, hate, crime, gloom and doom, and people are stressed? What a surprise.

  2. Is this the same as excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for at least6 months, about a number of events or activities? May want to check with your mental health provider about generalized anxiety disorder.

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