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How Obesity Can Weigh on Your Mind

Posted Friday 28 December 2018 09:46 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

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.


5 Benefits of Exercise, Other Than Weight Loss

Posted Sunday 17 June 2018 20:45 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

There are plenty of reasons why we should be moving more

It’s no secret that exercise is a positive thing. We all know that working up a sweat is good for us, and that we should probably do more of it. From mobility to hormone release, keeping our bodies moving can have significant benefits, both physically and mentally.

Regular exercise can improve our blood flow, strengthen muscles and lead to healthier heart and lung function. And yet, the main motivator for exercise continues to be weight loss. As summer gets underway, many of us become motivated to try and achieve our ‘summer bodies’ and lose a few excess pounds.

But exercise must be seen as more than just a quick fix for our body goals if we’re ever going to reap the true rewards of its health benefits. A body that is aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eye is merely an indicator of the more important underlying health benefits.

Here are five incentives to get up and get moving outside of achieving your weight loss goals.

Exercise reduces your risk of serious conditions like cancer

The most important benefit of exercise is that it can improve your health in the long term. Regular exercise is a key component in reducing your risk of developing serious conditions later in life, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

In fact, figures from the NHS reveal that regular exercise can decrease your risk of developing colon cancer by up to 50%. What’s more, it is also thought to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by a fifth (20%). UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines also state that physical activity can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 40%.

Exercise improves your sex drive

It’s not just your physical health that benefits from regular exercise – your mental health can see results, too. One example of this can be seen through the sex drive, which is boosted as you exercise more regularly.

Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones which can increase your wellbeing and self-esteem, thus improving your libido. It can also improve your blood flow, even to the most sensitive parts of your body.

In fact, one study by the University of Texas found that exercise increases sex drive in pre-menopausal women, and can even help women whose drives have been lowered by antidepressants.

Exercise reduces stress

Another way that exercise can improve your mental health is by tackling stress. There are approximately 3 million people in the UK with an anxiety disorder, and around 40% of disability worldwide is due to anxiety or depression.

Although not an outright cure, exercise can help. Again, the release of endorphins are significant here. According to an online study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than one in ten (14%) people use exercise as a way to cope with stress.

Exercise helps you sleep

Physical activity is a great way to make you feel more alert for the day ahead, but it can also help you feel more ready to rest when bedtime comes. Exercise is considered a natural way to treat conditions like insomnia, as figures suggest that those who exercise regularly experience better quality sleep at night.

In fact, a poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that exercisers sleep better than non-exercisers, and vigorous exercisers report the best quality sleep. Also, 44% of non-exercisers were found to be at moderate risk of sleep apnoea, compared to 19% of vigorous exercisers.

Exercise can help prevent back pain

More sick days are taken due to back pain than for any other health concern, costing the NHS roughly £500 million every year. But while vigorous exercise isn’t recommended without a GP’s advice if you’re already suffering from back pain, it can act as an effective preventative measure.

Even simple activities like swimming or walking can strengthen muscles and provide extra support to your spine, while popular pastimes like yoga can improve your mobility and flexibility.

There are plenty of benefits to exercise besides weight loss. Yet there are instances where individuals need additional support to achieve a healthy weight and support their long-term wellbeing goals. For safe and effective weight loss medication, contact the Express Pharmacy team on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet Live Chat service.


Are You Ready for National Obesity Awareness Week 2018

Posted Thursday 04 January 2018 15:52 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

As the new year gets underway, there’s never been a better time to make a sustainable improvement to your diet

This January, from the 8th to the 14th, UK adults are encouraged to tackle obesity head on and improve their overall health for good. That’s because it’s National Obesity Awareness Week 2018.

Whether it’s by cooking healthier meals, avoiding snacking throughout the day, or making the effort to be a little more physically active, this is your chance to get healthy and stay healthy. If your New Year’s resolution was to lose weight and get healthy, this is the perfect opportunity to really get started.

Why is National Obesity Awareness Week so important?

Simply put, obesity awareness is important because obesity and weight problems are a growing problem in the UK. Britain is the most obese country in Europe, and rates have been steadily climbing for several years. In 2014, 62% of UK adults were classed as obese, compared to 53% 20 years earlier.

Nowadays, more than two thirds of men and almost 6 in 10 women are overweight or obese in the UK. Raising awareness of the dangers of weight issues can help us as a society to get to grips with this epidemic and begin to reverse the trend.

A large part of this is understanding the difference between short term weight loss solutions and long term lifestyle changes. Extreme diets may offer weight loss benefits in the short term, but making permanent changes to your lifestyle through diet and physical activity are the only way to ensure the long term health benefits associated with weight loss. Part of this comes from better understanding the food we eat and how the body handles them.

Take a second glance at your food shop this National Obesity Awareness Week

We all know about the negative effects of excessive consumption when it comes to food items like sugars. But when it comes to our weekly food shop most of us aren’t fully aware of the contents of regular food items like cereals and so-called “diet” options. For example, yoghurt is often marketed as a health food, and in cases of natural yoghurt products can be extremely good for you. However, some yoghurt brands, including ones aimed at children and “low-fat” options often contain large amounts of added sugar.

Cereal bars are often marketed as a healthy alternative to chocolates and sweets. And while there may be more nutritional value to these items it is important that you read the ingredients carefully and are not simply drawn in by fancy packaging. Many cereal bars contain corn syrup, sugar cane fibre and fructose among others, transforming your seemingly healthy snack into a particularly unhealthy option.

Examples such as these reflect the importance of obesity awareness, as it’s vital that we understand the ingredients in the foods we’re consuming so we know what to look out for, and what to avoid. That’s why taking part in National Obesity Awareness Week can not only benefit your own health, but increase awareness for others too.

Understanding how to choose the very best items for your shopping basket is a good start to developing a healthier diet. It is important to prepare your own food and drinks where possible to ensure you know precisely what you are ingesting each time you sit down to a meal.

If you are looking to make changes to your lifestyle that you can maintain for longer than 6 weeks, consulting your GP or pharmacist is a great starting point. For those who are struggling to achieve changes in their weight through diet and exercise, Express Pharmacy offers two proven medications, Xenical and Mysimba, which can help individuals to improve their health in conjunction with other lifestyle changes.

Contact the team at Express Pharmacy today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet live chat service.

Related Products: Xenical Mysimba
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The Truth Behind Healthcare’s Old Wives’ Tales

Posted Monday 14 August 2017 11:42 by Tim Deakin in Express Pharmacy

Everyone has heard those health ‘facts’ that are actually old wives’ tales. But how do you know which stories are false and which bits of medical trivia should actually be heeded. Let’s take a closer look.

Ensuring that your knowledge of healthcare is up-to-date and accurate is an important part of staying healthy. Yet many of us still succumb to the misinformation spread by rumours, fear-mongering and old wives’ tales. Despite being seen as funny, charming and harmless, some of the advice given by these tales can actually be harmful.

“Cracking your knuckles gives you arthritis.”

According to research by Arthritis Research UK, there is no evidence to back up this classic claim.

That’s because when you crack your knuckles, the sound you hear isn’t actually your bones cracking, but rather tiny cavities of gas collapsing with a “pop”.

“We only use 10% of our brains.”

This is a myth perpetuated by fictional stories like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Lucy starring Scarlet Johansson, which explore the question of “what would we be capable of if we used 100% of our brains?” Well, the answer is about as much as we are now.

Every part of the brain has a specific role – even if it has nothing to do with intelligence or memory function. Brain scans have shown that no part of the brain actually goes completely unused as is often portrayed in fiction.

“Chewing gum stays in your system for 7 years.”

While it is true that chewing gum contains a synthetic resin that cannot be broken down by the digestive tract, it still gets moved along with the contents of your stomach and passed through just like everything else you eat. You’ll be rid of your chewing gum in a matter of days.

“Open cuts heal faster.”

Many people believe that open air helps wounds dry up and therefore heal faster, but research has found that the opposite is true.

Moist, closed conditions help cells surrounding the wound grow at a faster rate, encouraging the wound to heal cleanly. In contrast, dry air often leads to scabs which make it harder for new cells to grow.

Covering up a wound also reduces your risk of infection or suffering further injury.

“Muscle turns to fat when you don’t exercise.”

Muscle and fat are not interchangeable. They are two different kinds of tissue and cannot transform into each other.

This piece of misinformation gets spread because a lack of exercise causes you to store more fatty deposits and develop less muscle tissue. Without exercise, muscle mass deteriorates as a normal part of tissue turnover.

“Sugar causes hyperactivity in children.”

Despite numerous studies being carried out, there remains no evidence to suggest that sugary foods and drinks have a significant impact on children’s behaviour.

The confusion may stem from the fact that certain E numbers and additives have been found to cause hyperactivity in children, and these are found in many sugar-heavy food items.

It’s important to point out, however, that this is no excuse for overindulging in sugar. Significant spikes in blood sugar do impact on the body’s normal function in a number of ways and can place extra strain on organs of the body. Peaks and troughs in sugar intake will also impact on energy levels.

“Tip your head back to stop a nose bleed.”

Leaning back might stop the blood from dripping from your nose, but it also means more blood travels down the back of the throat where it could cause stomach irritation.

The best way to deal with a nose bleed is to pinch the soft area beneath the bridge and lean forwards whilst breathing through your mouth.

“Waking sleepwalkers can give them a heart attack.”

Although it’s true that you probably shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker abruptly and should instead gently guide them back to bed, this is merely to avoid disorientation and embarrassment. There is no evidence to suggest that waking someone up whilst their sleepwalking can do them any significant psychological damage.

For a clearer picture on healthcare, don’t hesitate to contact Express Pharmacy. You can use our discreet Live Chat tool or call us on 0208 123 0703.

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Summer Activities to Promote Health and Wellbeing for All the Family

Posted Friday 15 July 2016 10:11 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

weight managementFinally, what seems to have felt like the longest and wettest few months, the sun is shining and it seems like summer is here. With your sunglasses on and sun cream lathered the great outdoors is beckoning. The summer holidays are a brilliant time to kick-start a healthy, active and outdoor lifestyle for you and the whole family. Below are a list of fun family summer activities to get the blood pumping and the kids exercising and having fun!

The average adult should get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. This can be broken down into as little as 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five times a week.

Depending on their age, children should also be active as much as possible each day. Toddlers able to walk should be encouraged to stay active for at least 3 hours a day, while older children should be involved in active play that increases their heart rate for at least 60 minutes every day. In both adults and children it is worth stressing that it is healthy to aim for significantly more than this daily minimum if at all possible.

In this article we will look at how the whole family can combine activities and build moderate exercise into a fun excursion so that exercise need not feel like a chore.

Cycling

There are so many things to do right on your doorstep that are healthy and active, all you need to do is get out there and experience it for yourselves. One of the best activities is always a bike ride. When the sun shows its face, simply get the kids off the sofa, grab them a helmet and their bike and head for the outdoors.

Cycling is a fantastic way to stay healthy because it is a low-impact aerobic activity. This means that it puts less strain on joints and ligaments than something like running. Cycling to work or to school is also cheaper and better for the environment than taking the car or bus.

When the weekend comes, a simple search online for the best cycling routes will reveal a whole host of options – many of which will be away from the dangers of road traffic. The Forestry Commission states that there are over 1100km of cycle trails to enjoy, so you should not be hard pressed to find a route that is suitable for your location and physical capabilities. Why not pack a picnic and make it a day of adventure for the whole family? Bike rides are one of the best ways to get your children active and having fun in the outdoors this summer and you can get involved too.

Swimming

Swimming is also one of the best activities to be enjoyed by the whole family. A low impact cardiovascular pastime, swimming can both strengthen muscles across the whole body and get the heart pounding. Swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as strokes, heart disease and type 2 diabetes – not to mention weight gain.

On a sunny summer’s day do your research and you may even want to head for the seaside or find an outdoor pool near you. Just be conscious that open water swimming is very different from swimming in a pool, requiring swimmers to be more competent. Parents should always monitor children to ensure their safety at all times.

Racquet, bat and ball sports

Football, rugby, tennis, cricket and even rounders. All are a great way for the family to have fun and get the heart racing – not to mention getting the creative juices flowing. All you really need is a bit of open space, such as a sizeable garden, park or field.

Playing this type of sport not only gets the cardiovascular system working but it can also help children to develop their coordination and motor skills. Team games also teach important lessons about working together, sharing and communicating effectively. But best of all, a team sport can be a mood booster, releasing positive hormones that keep the mind and body healthy.

Want to talk to a pharmacist about improving health or weight management? Why not use our Live Chat facility now for fast, discreet advice?