Chapter 16 – Health, Stress, and Coping
“Fat tax” taxing individuals for excess weight, or for nonessential food that contributes to being
There is a complex connection between behaviour and health.
Health Psychologists – Study both positive and negative impacts that behaviour has on
Need for them has increased.
People are much more likely to die from things like obesity, alcohol, and tobacco than diseases.
Causes life shortening health problems
Lung, mouth and throat cancer, heart disease.
Life expectancy of smokers is 714 years shorter.
20.6% (6 million) of US adults smoke.
Family, culture, and personality effect if a person smokes.
The more exposure adolescents had to movies where there is smoking the more likely there were
to have tried it.
Freshmen 15 is actually more life freshmen 6.
University causes a great deal of both positive and negative stress.
Roughly 2/3 of US adults are over weight or obese.
Significant problem, especially in urban areas.
Not just a cosmetic problem can cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of
Body Mass Index (BMI) – Statistic commonly uses for estimating a healthy body weight that
factors in an individuals height.
Positive energy balance causes obesity, eating too many calories and not enough are expended.
▯ Genetics and Body Weight
Genes account for 50%90% of variation in body weight. 2
Set Point – A hypothesized mechanism that serves to maintain body weight around a
physiologically programmed level.
10%20% of ones weight
If an individual gains 10% of their body weight, set point would shift upwards.
Explains why people gain weight may shed a few pounds with ease.
▯ Social Factors
Social influences on eating are food advertisements, which trigger eating.
Increases incidences of overweight and obesity.
Workers who are overweight with the same qualifications are paid less.
Blacks and Hispanics have a greater prevalence for obesity.
People who are obese have on average 8% less brain tissue than people who are lean.
▯ The Sedentary Lifestyle
Modern conveniences have reduced the amount of physical activity.
Childhood obesity rates have risen dramatically.
There are a greater variety of sedentary activities (video games)
The amount of time children spend playing video games positively correlates to levels of obesity.
▯ Poverty and Discrimination
Health and wealth increase together.
People who experience poverty and discrimination have higher incidences of depression and
Health problems are magnified by stress.
Heart disease is prevalent in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.
Discrimination is linked to high blood pressure and heart rate.
Puts people at a greater risk for engaging in unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and
▯ Family and Social Environment
Marriage is the primary social relationship that shows longterm health benefits.
Social support, and combined resources. 3
Men enjoy greater health benefits from marriage.
Marriage can also cause stress.
Can cause depression, and affect emotionally and physically the children.
▯ Social Contagion
Eating food because others around you are when you aren’t hungry.
Body weight seems to spread socially.
Social Contagion – Often unintentional spreading of behaviour as a result of social
Ex. Body weight, smoking.
▯ Stress and Illness
Choking under pressure, due to negative effects stress has on working memory.
Stress – Psychological and physiological reaction that occurs when demands exceed resources
to meet those demands.
Refers to both events (stressors) and experiences in response to events (stress response)
Come in a variety of forms, acute events, giving a speech, and chronic events, illness, marriage
Individuals can react very differently to the same stressful event.
Life changes whether positive or negative are a major source of stress.
▯ Physiology of Stress
Stress is felt as much as it is experienced.
General Adaption Syndrome (GAS) – Theory of stress response involving stages of
alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
First elicits alarm, recognition of threat.
Resistance, coping with event.
Exhaustion, experience depletes physical resources, stress response declines.
▯ The Stress Pathways
Heart races, palms get sweaty, and your stomach feels like its in knots. 4
Autonomic Pathway – Originates in the brain and extends to the body where you feel stress
In response to stress the hypothalamus stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, causing the
adrenal glands to release epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal Axis (HPA) – Neural and endorine circuit that
provides communication between nervous system (hypothalamus) and endocrine system (pituitary
and adrenal glands).
In stressful situations the hypothalamus release corticotrophin releasing factor which stimulates
the pituitary gland to stimulating the release of:
Cortisol – A hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex that prepares body to respond to stressful
Individuals differ in how their autonomic nervous system responds to stress.
Stress involves glucocorticoids (Cortisol)
Modified by social stress in early development.
Those who have experienced childhood abuse have fewer of these receptors.
▯ Oxytocin: To Tend and Befriend
Stress sometimes leads people to seek close contact and social support.
Tend to Befriend response.
May promote the release of: