With summer right around the corner, you may find yourself renewing weight loss goals you made for the new year and have since neglected. You may simply be thinking about the fact that you can no longer conceal those few extra pounds under a chunky sweater, but there are several reasons why maintaining a healthy weight is important to your overall health (ones that have nothing to do with having to do with how you look in a bikini.)
People have many different motives for losing weight. One of the most important reasons for weight loss, however, is that reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and reduce your chances of developing several serious medical conditions. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight could help you live longer, since someone who is 40% overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as is a person who is a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese is not just a cosmetic issue, it is a serious health problem. For starters, being just 22 pounds overweight can increase your risk of heart disease by 12% and your risk of stroke by 24%. Weight loss lowers your BMI (a measurement of how much body fat you have) and according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, can directly lower your risk for heart disease. This decreases your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or arterial blockage.
Additionally, you are 20 times more likely to develop type II diabetes if you are overweight than if you maintain a healthy weight. In fact, 90% of people who have type II diabetes are overweight or obese. Being overweight inferes with the way the body processes sugar in your blood, which increases your chances of developing diabetes. Diabetes can also cause a number of other health issues, such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and limb amputation. It is also the seventh leading cause of death in the US. Fortunately, losing weight can reduce your risk of developing type II diabetes.
According to a 2003 study by the American Cancer Society, being overweight or obese can even increase your chances of dying from certain types of cancer, including colon, breast, esophageal, pancreatic, and stomach cancers. This study suggests that being overweight or obese caused 14% of male deaths from cancer and 20% of female deaths from cancer in adults 50 years or older. Some studies have also shown links between obesity and gall bladder, ovary, and pancreas cancers.
Being overweight can also negatively influence the quality of your sleep. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 77% of obese adults reported some type of sleep problem. One of the most common sleep disorders associated with being overweight is sleep apnea, a breathing condition that causes people to snore and stop breathing for short periods of time while they sleep. As body weight increases, so does the risk for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea may increase your risk for heart disease or stroke and can lead to daytime sleepiness. However, weight loss can decrease the severity of sleep apnea.
Additionally, a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that that adults who exercised three times a week or more were less likely to report fair or poor sleep. Getting consistent exercise not only improves the quality of your sleep, but it also promotes weight loss, which will further improve sleep and reduce your risk and symptoms of sleep disorders.
Furthermore, carrying around extra weight can be quite hard on your body. Being overweight puts stress on your neck, feet, knees, hips, and lower back, which can increase symptoms of osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and other pain causing chronic conditions. A study published in Obesity journal found that compared to people with normal weight, people who were overweight (BMI of 25-29) reported having 20% more pain and people who were obesity stage I (BMI of 30-34) had about 68% more pain. People who were obesity stage II (BMI of 35-39) had 136% more pain and those with stage III, extreme obesity (BMI of 40 or more) had 254% more pain than the individuals in the study with normal weights. Clearly there is a link between pain and obesity. Losing weight will help take the strain off your bones and joints, will help to ease pain, and will also make it easier to exercise in order to maintain weight loss.
Obesity certainly causes a number of physical health issues, but being overweight also can seriously affect your mental health as well. Studies have found that people with obesity are 25% more likely to experience depression or other related mood disorders than those who are not obese. Being overweight can lead to poor self-image, poor self-esteem, and social isolation. Those who are overweight can find themselves stereotyped, mocked, ostracized, and discriminated against. All of these factors can contribute to depression. Experiencing the pain and other health problems that are related to being overweight or obese can lead to and worsen depression as well.
Since depression and obesity are so closely linked, treating both of these conditions simultaneously will provide the best results. Seeking professional help for depression can make it easier to be motivated to lose weight, which in turn, will help ease the depression. If you are obese and are suffering from depression, ask your doctor to recommend a dietician and a physiatrist so that you can confront the stress, anxiety or other problems that are causing your depression and obesity.
If you are overweight or obese, there is no better time to start losing weight. Your body (and your bikini) will thank you.