Narrator: This is Science Today. If you're chronically stressed out, chances are you will reach for chocolate or other comfort foods. Mary Dallman, a physiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, found that when chronically stressed, stress hormones in rats prompted them to engage in pleasure-seeking behaviors - like eating high-energy foods.
Dallman: They drank more sucrose, but they ate less chow so that their caloric intake wasn't any more, but their sucrose intake was and the high sucrose in any sort of animal helps to put on abdominal fat.
Narrator: Evolutionarily speaking, Dallman says this kind of weight gain when stressed makes sense. But in the long-term, this kind of fat is not good.
Dallman: This particular fat mass is associated strongly with bad outcome with time. Cardiovascular disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes - and these are major problems in our society and perhaps some of that is a consequence of this comfort food notion - which is still a hypothesis.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.