Who would have thought…Roebert Sapolsky has invaded my Netflix. Not only has he taken over my seminar class, he is now appearing in my “recommended for you section”. However, because I was feeling rather nerdy two nights ago, I decided to watch this National Geographic documentary about stress; appropriately titled Stress: portrait of a killer.
This documentary focused more on Sapolsky’s book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. They documented Sapolsky’s work at a marae in Kenya. There he was taking blood samples from a colony of baboons he had been tracking for the past several years. What he noticed was that the superior males showed a significantly lower number of glucocorticoids compared to the more inferior males. He also found that the subordinate males showed higher blood pressure and heart rate. The documentary featured another study that found inferior macaque monkeys’ arteries showed significantly more plaque buildup than the superior males. Now there is legitimate evidence that stress has harmful effects besides causing the infamous ulcers.
There was another small section in the documentary that I found really interesting. In the same macaque colony, there was a significant difference in weight between the superior and inferior males. The inferior males were a lot heavier, especially around the stomach area. It would be an interesting study to look at obesity in America and whether there is any correlation to the level of stress. If the solution for some people is to just decrease the stress in their daily lives, the obesity epidemic may come to an end a lot sooner than expected.