How Are Humans and Hamsters Alike?

The somewhat surprising answer to the rhetorical question posed above: Unlike rats or mice, when domestic hamsters are placed in stressful situations they become obese, as do their human counterparts and have a propensity for adding visceral fat too.

Scientists studied the physical effect of nontraumatic stress -- the kind you'd associate with getting stuck in a traffic jam or finishing a crunch project at the office -- on Syrian hamsters (typically solitary creatures) by introducing a young one into the cage of an older, more dominant resident for seven-minute intervals four times a day.

Only once during the 33-day experiment did hamsters not gain weight or eat more due to stressful conditions. Also, hamsters placed with others at irregular times during the day gained more weight and fat than those that intrude at set times.

Along with eating the proper foods and getting the right amount of exercise every day, how you respond to stress -- not to the mere presence of it -- is just as important to your future health.

One of the best ways to handle stress -- learning the Emotional Freedom Technique -- is also one of the most natural means, but without the invasiveness of needles.

American Journal of Physiology -- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Vol. 290, No. 5, May 2006: 1284-1293

EurekAlert May 8, 2006

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