If you were once obese and have now returned to normal weight by losing excess body fat, experts say it may not be ‘hurrah’ yet.
This is because preliminary findings from a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin suggest that even after losing weight, individuals who were once obese can suffer from “weight scarring” that could lead to depression and anxiety — and even early death, the Guardian reported.
The study, led by Dr. Gusti Ngurah Edi Putra of the University of Liverpool looked at data from over 40,000 individuals in the U.S., including past and current weight, height, symptoms of depression and other psychological well-being indicators, and mortality.
They found that a history of obesity increased the risk of early death by about 30%, independent of current weight.
“Our findings suggest that obesity may be psychologically ‘scarring’ and that these psychological ‘scars’ may increase the risk of an early death,” Putra said.
“Ensuring people with obesity receive psychological support, even after experiencing weight loss, may reduce the risk of subsequent ill health,” he added.
Putra noted that the findings have yet to be published and are based on observational data, and that “further research confirming our findings is now needed.”
Obesity occurs when a person’s body mass index is 30 or greater. The main symptom is excessive body fat, which increases the risk of serious health problems.
Day-to-day problems related to obesity
- increased sweating.
- difficulty doing physical activity.
- often feeling very tired.
- joint and back pain.
- low confidence and self-esteem.
- feeling isolated.
Risks of living with obesity
Obesity is a serious health concern that increases the risk of many other health conditions. These include:
- type 2 diabetes
- coronary heart disease
- some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer
Being overweight and obese can also affect your quality of life and contribute to mental health problems, such as depression, and can also affect self-esteem.
Causes of obesity
Obesity is a complex issue with many causes. Obesity and overweight is caused when extra calories, particularly those from foods high in fat and sugar, are stored in the body as fat.
Obesity is an increasingly common problem because the environment we live in makes it difficult for many people to eat healthily and do enough physical activity.
Genetics can also be a cause of obesity for some people. Your genes can affect how your body uses food and stores fat.
There are also some underlying health conditions that can occasionally contribute to weight gain, such as an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), although these types of conditions do not usually cause weight problems if they’re effectively controlled with medicines.
Some medicines can also make people more likely to put on weight, including steroids and some medicines for high blood pressure, diabetes or mental health conditions.
The best way to treat obesity is to eat a healthy reduced-calorie diet and exercise regularly. To do this, you can:
- eat a balanced calorie-controlled diet as recommended by a GP or weight loss management health professional (such as a dietitian)
- take up activities such as fast walking, jogging, swimming or tennis for 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) a week