obesity and mental health

We’re often warned about the physical impact of obesity, but what about the emotional toll it can take?

Obesity continues to be a huge issue for UK healthcare. In fact, 62% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese.[1] This is a serious concern, as obesity be a factor in many serious health concerns like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

However, the consequences of living with obesity can also be emotional as well as physical. We’re here to explore the ways obesity and mental wellbeing can interact.

Is obesity a mental health issue?

It’s important to establish that there is no direct causal link between mental health and obesity. The reason this is important to state is that there is often a stigma attached to overweight people that they are ‘slower’ or less intelligent than thinner people. This caricature holds no basis in truth.

Instead, we’re going to explore how mental health and obesity can impact each other in ways shown by research and statistics. Can mental health conditions make obesity more likely, and can being obese increase your chances of experiencing mental health concerns?

Eating disorders

Mental health can impact our weight at both ends of the spectrum, as evidenced by conditions like anorexia. Over the last four decades, the number of eating disorders has escalated hugely both in the UK and worldwide. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 1.6 million people struggling with an eating disorder in the UK.[2]

On the surface, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia represent the opposite problem to obesity; causing sufferers to become extremely underweight rather than overweight. However, they do highlight a key connection between dietary habits and mental health.

This connection also presents itself in habits like binge eating, which is often a key cause of obesity. Binge eating compels people to consume huge quantities of food in a short period of time. Unlike other conditions like bulimia, sufferers rarely purge themselves afterwards. However, feelings of shame, guilt and even depression are common.

Obesity as a symptom: a vicious cycle

hamburger and chipsAlthough we cannot assume that just because someone is obese that they must be living with mental health concerns, obesity can be a symptom of psychological factors. For example, stress is one of the most common mental health concerns in the UK. According to the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 report, 74% of people reported feeling so stressed in the last year that they were unable to cope. What’s more, 46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress.[3]

Conditions like anxiety, stress and depression can lead to the use of food as a comfort or coping mechanism. They can also have a detrimental effect on motivation when it comes to activities like exercise and cooking healthy meals. As such, your likelihood of becoming obese rises with the appearance of these conditions. This can then create a vicious cycle, as being obese can reduce your motivation even further and make you feel more anxious or depressed.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, start the new year off right with safe and effective weight loss medication from Express Pharmacy. Both Xenical and Mysimba can help support you on your weight loss journey and meet your goals in a healthy way. And for further support, contact our team today. Call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our online Live Chat service.