OBESITY, it’s impact on mental health!
Being overweight is not only a concern related to physical appearance but also a risk to one’s health, which includes both physical and mental health. Studies have indicated that worldwide the number of people with obesity has increased thrice in number between 1975 and 2016.
There has also been more number of deaths due to overweight than underweight. In 2019 it was found that 38 million children under the age of 5 were overweight.
But what /when is one considered to be obese or overweight? Let’s first understand what exactly is meant by the term ‘’Obesity’’ or ‘’overweight’’.
Obesity is a complex and chronic disease that involves abnormal or excessive accumulation of body weight. In general it indicates a weight that is greater than what is considered healthy. It is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or more, in an adult.
The BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight (kg) and height (m) into account to measure the body size. It is often a result of consumption of more calories than that are burned by physical activities and normal daily activities. Obesity is a medical condition that increases the risk of several other diseases and health related issues.
Childhood obesity is also a serious medical condition affecting both children and adolescents. Age needs to be considered when trying to define obesity or overweight in children. Children who are obese generally grow up to be obese adults. Obesity is a very common disease, and childhood obesity has expeditiously become one of the greatest dangers of the future generations. Obesity is one of the most common preventable causes of death throughout the globe.
Symptoms of obesity
The primary and most prominent warning sign of obesity is an above average body weight.
Some other present symptoms could involve;
- Difficulties with breathing
- Particularly excessive fat accumulation around the waist region.
- Psychological impact( low self esteem, low confidence, shame, depression, social isolation)
- Sleep troubles, snoring
- Liver diseases
- Varicose veins
- Sleep apnea ( breathing repeatedly starts and stop, irregular breathing during sleep )
- Increased sweating
- Feeling tired throughout the day
- Lethargic, unable to do simple physical tasks
- Sweating more than usual
- Back and joint pain
CHILDREN AND ADOLSECENTS
- Deposit of fatty tissues around the breast area
- Eating disorders
- Shortness of breathe during physical activities
- Sleep apnea
- Appearance of stretch marks on the back and hips
- Girls- early puberty , boys- delayed puberty
- Some have body frame that is larger than average
- Panic/ stress eating
- Lack of energy
The symptoms of obesity if and when found to be present in a child or an adult must be dealt with as early as possible. There are ways in which an obese individual can be helped. Obesity is also a consequence of psycho, biological and social factors. So let’s look at the risk factors that possibly can contribute to obesity.
Risk Factors of Obesity
There can be a mix of various factors contributing to the risk of developing obesity:
- Genetic susceptibility and family inheritance
- Environment and community factors
- Hormonal influence
- Poor sleeping patterns( insufficient sleep)
- Age- slower metabolic rates as one grows older, easier to gain weight
- Psychological factors
- Lack of physical activities
- Poor and unhealthy diet
- Medications – steroids sand birth control pills
- Certain health related illnesses
- Economic factors
- Gut bacteria- effects on the metabolic potential
Some more common factors that can cause obesity includes; poor sleep patterns, pregnancy- at a later age, quitting smoking( as the person tends to switch to food when they are trying to avoid smoking leading to weight gain), stress, past attempts to lose weight followed by fast weight regain. However, these risk factors of obesity can still be altered and one can counteract it by improving their diet, lifestyle and make behavioural changes to maintain a healthy body. There are times when people do not realise they are taking the path to being overweight and just keep eating all they love or end up binge eating due to various reasons. These individuals at times realise too late about the amount of harm they have done to their bodies or some never happen to accept it. Whatever may be the situation it is always good to know about the good and bad affects of things.
Complications of obesity
After going through the risk factors and the symptoms by far we must have clearly understood that obesity and overweight can lead to complications in one’s health, such as;
- Cardiovascular diseases-Heart disease and stroke
- Diabetes – type 2
- High blood pressure
- Fatty liver
- Certain type of cancers (breast, colon ,ovarian, endometrial)
- Gallbladder problems
- kidney problem
- High cholesterol
- Issues with digestion
- Sleep apnea
- Gynaecological issues( infertility)
- Sexual problems
In most circumstances the complications of obesity are generally same for adults as well as children. However, Childhood obesity can cause complications even when the individual becomes an adult. It is associated with increased chances of premature death. Obese children also experience shortness of breath, hypertension, and increased risk of fractures, insulin resistance, early risk of heart diseases and several other psychological problems. Overall obesity has been found to decrease the life expectancy of an individual.
Does being obese or overweight affect one’s mental health?
Yes, studies have shown that being overweight most likely leads to a negative impact on a person’s mental health.
The most commonly observed psychological issues in individuals with obesity are depression and low self esteem, even if there is no evidence of any previous history of mental illness.
Age and the gender of a person also play an important role in the relationship between obesity and, mental illness.
Obese individuals experience stigma from people at workplace, employers, educators, health professionals, and the media and very sadly even from friends and family.
This stigma is associated with significant psychological issues such as Depression, anxiety and reduced self esteem.
Children are the most easily and severely affected by the obesity stigma attached to them. These children tend to fall prey to bullying and are victimized by their peers, relatives, family, teachers and friends who spark off feelings of shame, guilt leading to depression, poor school and academic performance, poor self body image, low self esteem and even suicide.
Thus, as a result these children end up isolating themselves , avoid meeting people fearing they will be body shamed and this in the long run affect the child as they grow.
Several studies have indicated obesity to be a consequence of certain mental illness such as depression, anxiety, Post traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD) and disordered eating related behaviours. Thus, there is a strong link between obesity and mental illness.
Obesity can be a result of mental illness, also being overweight/obese can lead one to develop certain mental illnesses.
The past few decades we have seen the modern culture applaud slim-toned body. However, in recent times there have been some changes regarding the perception of body image and shaming individuals that are heavier and healthier rather than thin and slim.
It is important for people to understand that obesity is a result of excessive fat accumulation and when that happens one also suffers from many health problems as well.
Therefore, more than being concerned about trend and the way people might perceive them; one must know the negative consequences of obesity and focus on trying to help themselves.
This will indirectly make one feel good and confident about the person they are. Thus, resulting in a positive outlook of self and others.
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- What is Sleep Disorder
- How to lose fat fast
- What is Anorexia
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