Aviva Survey Identifies Strong Link Between High Stress Levels and Weight Gain

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A new survey finds a strong correlation between high levels of stress and weight gain among U.S. males.

Aviva U.S.A., Des Moines, Iowa, published this finding in a summary of results from an April 2012 online survey of 2,068 adults aged 18 and older. Aviva conducted the poll in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, a Rochester, Minn.-based provider of medical care, research and education; and the Paris, France-based market research firm Ipsos.

Two in three men report that they are stressed, with their financial situation being the top contributing factor for a third of the men surveyed. Family/relationship, the report says, are a distant second-leading indicator.

Additionally, 45% of men report gaining weight over the past 10 years. Only 19% of men, the survey says, report losing weight during the same time frame. 

Four out of five men consider themselves to be in good to excellent health, despite nearly half of them having gained weight over the past 10 years. And two in three respondents say they feel stressed.

The survey finds a pronounced correlation between weight and stress. Men who indicate a large decrease in weight tend to be less affected by stress. By contrast, men who are "extremely stressed" are more than three times as likely to have a "dramatic increase in weight over the last 10 years compared to other male respondents.

Additionally, the report observes, men who are extremely stressed are five times more likely to experience a significant weight gain compared to unstressed men.

Among the survey's other findings:

--One in four men rarely or never exercises.When asked to identify the factor that most contributes to their stress, 34% of men cite their financial situation, 17% point to family/relationships and 12% say job stability. An additional 10% cite the fast pace of life and 8% flag their health.

--Sixty-two percent of men who are extremely stressed also are uncomfortable with their financial situation. In contrast, only 21% of those who say they are not stressed claim to be uncomfortable with their financial situation.

--Although men identify their financial situation as the biggest factor contributing to stress, half of the men surveyed say they rarely discuss finances with anyone. Only three in ten men are comfortable with their current financial situation. And only about one in 15 are very comfortable.

--Despite the general discomfort with their financial situation, only one in five men currently work with a financial planner or advisor.   

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