Stress can contribute to obesity, and obesity can contribute to stress. Researchers have recently developed answers to explain why this is.

Human Biologist Brynjar Foss, from the University of Stavanger, in Norway, said diet and lack of physical activity aren’t the only things that lead to obesity. Stress is also a significant factor in obesity, and according to Foss, not enough emphasis is placed on the stress factor when it comes to weight gain.

Along with his colleague Sindre M. Dyrstad, Foss, narrowed in on several studies that show weight gain and cortisol levels (the stress hormone), are significantly higher in those who became overweight due to stress.

Findings were published in the medical journal Medical Hypotheses.

“If you have high cortisol, you seem to put on weight more easily,” said Foss. Both he and Dyrstad note that stress and obesity play off of each other, which creates an unhealthy cycle.

Weight gain can cause one to become more stressed, which in turn causes a person to gain weight. “When you go up in weight, your body also comes under stress,” Foss explains. “That probably has a self-reinforcing effect, so you get even fatter,” he detailed.

Researchers state that another type of proactivity will need to be used when fighting obesity.

“Should our hypothesis turn out to be correct, it would mean that you’ll have to break this stress pattern if you want to halt the weight increase,” Foss said.

More From 600 ESPN El Paso