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Monday, 16 December 2013

Obesity and Mental Health

The Psychological Effects of Obesity

The Psychological Effects of Obesity
The population of the world is truly becoming rounder. More than 300 million people across the globe are obese and more than 1 billion are overweight. A problem that virtually affects people of all ages and socioeconomic groups, the World Health Organization estimates that the world is in a grip of a global epidemic and by the year 2022, obesity will become the single biggest killer on the planet. It is the biggest health burden for the world and has plagued the earth for quite a few decades now and will continue to do so in the future.

It was believed that obese people were compulsive eaters, under stress, anxious and depressed. But today, the rapidly evolving world has posed as a threat to health. People console themselves with comfort food high in fats, sugars and calories mostly as they are anxious, angry or have a low self-esteem. A type of depression even includes symptoms of lethargy and over-eating. The mind and the body are inter-related and thus obesity can lead to ill health and may be linked to depression and anxiety. Family dynamics and stress may also play a role in mental health and creates more opportunities for affecting food habits and health. Apart from this, recent studies have indicated the relationship between PTSD and obesity. It has also been seen that women, who have a less-than-positive emotional health a more prone to gaining weight.

Obesity can be caused die to behavioral, biological, psychological or social causes. Behavioral changes such as dieting and binge eating can contribute to being obese. Sometimes, physical changes in the body such as increased chronic illness, body pain, sleep problems, poor immune system, side effects of medications or abnormal hormonal changes may cause obesity. Mental health itself can be a cause for obesity than the opposite as poor perception of one’s health, a poor self-esteem or a heightened concern of body image may contribute to this state. Most social stigmas related to weight and body may cause obesity too. Unhealthy lifestyles and using food as a coping strategy for dealing with stress may cause obesity.

Approaching the possibility of one being overweight or obese directly is the best possible way of dealing and treating obesity. It is best to have a referral base of psychologists or counselors who have a reasonable knowledge about obesity and can help by recommending exercises, diet and a medium to communicate one’s issues. Participating in weight loss programs may have a substantial effect on mood and alter body image. Physical activities aim to decrease anxiety, depression and anger and this can in turn enhance mood and improve one’s self worth and body image. This may be challenging but yet it adds to a person’s daily routine as it helps to modify lifestyle choices.
Nutrition and diet is important for the mental health too as it is for the physical health of a person. A person can be aided to manage stress which will eventually have a positive effect on their ability to be able to control their mood and their weight. Treatments include strategies to improve self-esteem, develop self-efficacy and enhance one’s self-worth to help people change their well-being. Psychological therapies can help to improve mood and weight by therapies such as motivational enhancement therapy approach and behavioral activation strategies.

Obesity is the result of changing diets and changes in physical activity levels. The nutrition transition in today’s world is the main cause for this change. Changing urban trends in lifestyle couple with the rise in the range of food available, at lower prices, including fast food and junk food, has contributed to this. For nations whose social and economic resources are stretched to the limits and beyond, the results of obesity could be disastrous. This can be controlled and this will only be possible with effort and change.

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