• social stress;
  • metabolic syndrome;
  • obesity;
  • glucocorticoids;
  • socioeconomic status;
  • epigenetics

Socioeconomic stress associated with financial and psychosocial stress is widespread in society. A comprehensive body of research indicates that low socioeconomic status and social stress is associated with a broad spectrum of health risks. This paper reviews epidemiological evidence demonstrating the association between chronic social stress and development of obesity and symptoms leading to metabolic syndrome. The cumulative effects of socioeconomic stress on health and well being are evident throughout the lifespan, affecting children, adolescents, and adults. While the links between stress and metabolic disease are documented, the mechanisms remain less well understood. Animal models are well established and have provided opportunities to systematically investigate contributing mechanisms that may be targeted to develop treatment and prevention strategies against metabolic disorders arising from exposure to chronic social stress.