How Weight Affects Mental And Physical Health
If you struggle with your weight, you know that it can easily affect many parts of your life. From what you wear to what activities you participate in, excess fat can be a cumbersome and annoying companion.
But what some people don’t realize is that being overweight might not just be an annoyance, it could be a health risk.
Below are two of the most common ways that excess fat could put you in danger.
Weight and depression
Do people gain weight because they’re depressed, or do they become depressed because they’re overweight? A review of 15 studies found evidence that both scenarios are likely true. The study, published in 2010 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that obese people have a 55% higher risk of developing depression over time compared with people of normal weight. Here are some reasons why obesity may increase risk of depression:
- Both conditions appear to stem (at least in part) from alterations in brain chemistry and function in response to stress.
- Psychological factors are also plausible. In our culture, thin equals beautiful, and being overweight can lower self-esteem, a known trigger for depression.
- Odd eating patterns and eating disorders, as well as the physical discomfort of being obese, are known to foster depression.
The study also found that depressed people have a 58% higher risk of becoming obese. Here are some reasons why depression may lead to obesity:
- Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol (common in people with depression) may alter substances in fat cells that make fat accumulation, especially in the belly, more likely, according to one theory.
- People who feel depressed often feel too blue to eat properly and exercise regularly, making them more prone to gain weight.
- Some medications used to treat depression cause weight gain.
Weight and lifespan
Being overweight or obese can make just getting around a challenge. Compared with people at a healthy weight, those carrying extra pounds have a harder time walking a quarter-mile, lifting 10 pounds, and rising from an armless chair. The burden of these problems appears to be greater than in years past, probably because people are now obese for a greater portion of their lives, experts speculate.
And because excess weight plays a role in so many common and deadly diseases, overweight and obesity can cut years off your life. A New England Journal of Medicine study that followed more than half a million 50- to 71-year-olds for a decade found an increase of 20% to 40% in death rates among people who were overweight at midlife. Among obese people, the death rate was two to three times as high.
A 2010 study in the same journal, which pooled findings from 19 studies that followed nearly 1.5 million white adults 19 to 84 years old for a similar period of time, found that the risk of death increased along with body size, ranging from 44% higher for those who were mildly obese to 250% higher for those with a BMI of 40 to 50.
– via www.helpguide.org
Does Fat Cause Cancer?
Well, yes and no. Fat doesn’t cause cancer, but there is evidence that being overweight can increase your risk for certain cancers.
Another potential danger of excess fat that many people don’t think of? Sleep apnea!
What is cancer?
Cancer occurs when cells in one part of the body, such as the colon, grow abnormally or out of control. The cancerous cells sometimes spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
How is cancer linked to overweight?
Gaining weight as an adult increases the risk for several cancers, even if the weight gain doesn’t result in overweight or obesity. It isn’t known exactly how being overweight increases cancer risk. Fat cells may release hormones that affect cell growth, leading to cancer. Also, eating or physical activity habits that may lead to being overweight may also contribute to cancer risk.
How can weight loss help?
Avoiding weight gain may prevent a rise in cancer risk. Healthy eating and physical activity habits may lower cancer risk. Weight loss may also lower your risk, although studies have been inconclusive.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing during sleep. A person who has sleep apnea may suffer from daytime sleepiness, difficulty focusing, and even heart failure.
How is sleep apnea linked to overweight?
Obesity is the most important risk factor for sleep apnea. A person who is overweight may have more fat stored around his or her neck. This may make the airway smaller. A smaller airway can make breathing difficult or loud (because of snoring), or breathing may stop altogether for short periods of time. In addition, fat stored in the neck and throughout the body may produce substances that cause inflammation. Inflammation in the neck is a risk factor for sleep apnea.
How can weight loss help?
Weight loss usually improves sleep apnea. Weight loss may help to decrease neck size and lessen inflammation.
– via www.niddk.nih.gov
Are you worried that being overweight could be a danger to your health? Are you ready to find your path to a healthier lifestyle?