We also found that women with greater abdominal fat had more negative moods and higher levels of life stress,” said Dr Elissa Epel, lead investigator on the study she conducted while at Yale’s psychology department.
She added: “Greater exposure to life stress or psychological vulnerability to stress may explain their enhanced cortisol reactivity.
“In turn, their cortisol exposure may have led them to accumulate greater abdominal fat.
“Everyone is exposed to stress, but some people may secrete more cortisol than others, and may secrete cortisol each time they face the same stressor.
“We predicted that reacting to the same stressors consistently by secreting cortisol would be related to greater visceral fat.”