It may be the end of a long January. But if you have been paying attention to your diet and exercise regime for the last month, there are plenty of reasons for you to keep up the good work. And none of them have anything to do with preparing for a beach body.

There are many factors that can contribute to weight gain. Whether it’s poor diet or just a sedentary lifestyle, millions of people in the UK now eat a little bit too much that’s not good for them and exercise a little too infrequently to keep the weight off.

Weight gain has become a huge issue nationally and, indeed, globally. According to research by the World Health Organisation, ‘At least one in three of the world's adult population is now overweight and almost one in 10 can be categorised as obese.’ And worryingly figures are even higher in the UK. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimate that one in four British adults is now obese – a figure much higher than many of our European counterparts.

It should be no real surprise to hear that obesity can have an extremely serious impact on health – including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and several forms of cancer. All of these issues can cause or contribute to premature death.

Yet, it isn’t just those people who are clinically obese whose health can be affected by lifestyle diseases. A poor relationship with nutrition and exercise can lead to a catalogue of health concerns that affect both the body and the mind. Let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms that may be encountered with weight gain:

Mental health issues and depression:

Alongside the stresses placed on the body, weight gain can also have a major psychological impact. Those who are overweight often encounter low self-esteem, negative body image, anxiety and in some cases more serious mental health issues such as eating disorders and depression.

The role that diet plays in mental health is an obvious but under-recognised fact. At a basic level, maintaining a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals in the body can play a significant role in balancing mood and emotions. Conversely, erratic spikes in nutrients and particularly blood sugar can lead to mood swings and greater stress.

In the same vein, regular exercise can have a profound impact on mental health, helping to combat depression, anxiety, stress and low self-esteem, through the release of endorphins.

Joint pain:

Weight gain can also lead to joint pain, particularly on weight-baring joints like the knees and hips. In fact every extra pound of weight gained puts an extra four pound of pressure on to our knee joints. Which means that extra 5 pounds of holiday weight adds 20 pounds of weight to each knee. So it’s really no surprise bones and joints can suffer wear and tear overtime.

Indigestion and heartburn:

Recent studies have shown that those who gain weight dramatically increase their risk of heartburn. Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when the acidic stomach juices flow up into the oesophagus. This is thought to be caused by pressure in the stomach. While this can bring discomfort it can also increase the chances of something much more serious. If left untreated, it can lead to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

Infertility:

Obesity can have significant implications in terms of fertility, particularly for women. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), more than 70% of women who are infertile due to weight issues, would be able to successfully conceive without the aid of fertility treatments if they maintained a healthy weight. Excess fat is the main culprit here as fat cells help create the reproductive hormone, oestrogen. Too many fat cells, lead to an overload in sex hormones, which can disrupt ovulation.

Men who gain excess weight also experience hormonal changes that effect fertility — mainly a reduction in testosterone levels. There are also much higher rates of erectile dysfunction among obese men, making it more difficult for couples to conceive.

Maintaining a healthy BMI is the best way to avoid the health impacts caused by weight gain. Weight loss should always be achieved through healthy means. That means maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

For those who are carrying a lot of extra weight, there are also several medications available that can help you on your weight loss journey. Xenical, also known as Orlistat works well as part of a healthy weight loss strategy.

Want expert medical advice about safe and sustainable weight management? Why not contact our pharmacy team today on 0208 123 0703?