Addressing obesity (World Obesity Month)

By: Osler Health International
Posted on: 1 Mar 2024

Obesity affects individuals of all ages and is not just a personal health issue but a societal concern that impacts overall well-being and healthcare systems. Its implications extend beyond the physical, influencing mental health and quality of life.

How does obesity affect individuals and how can individuals can work towards addressing their health?

Obesity as a physical condition

Obesity is not merely a matter of appearance or an outcome of lifestyle choices; it’s a complex physical condition with deep-rooted health implications.

The condition is significantly linked to an increased risk of developing various chronic diseases that pose serious health risks. Diabetes stands out as a particularly prevalent cause of obesity. This is because the excess body fat associated with obesity can potentially cause insulin resistance, a significant factor in developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Obesity is also a crucial risk factor for heart disease, including hypertension, heart attacks, and stroke. This is mainly due to the fact that excess weight can put additional strain on the heart and eventually affect blood flow.

A further aspect of obesity is the development of sarcopenic obesity. This condition combines the loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia) with obesity, further complicating the health risks. The development of sarcopenic obesity can lead to further, and more complicated, health risks. A loss of muscle can exacerbate the lack of physical movement, thereby creating a sedentary loop.

Given the severe health implications of obesity, we recommend early intervention when weight gain is becoming an inhibitor to life. The first step is to see a doctor for the first of regular full-body check-ups. You may decide you would like the doctor to give you the time and understand the root causes of your weight gain, therefore a private GP clinic may be the optimal option. There are very experienced private doctors in Singapore that will collaborate with you on your obesity challenges and develop a plan in association with other trusted health providers (such as therapists, nutritionists, life coaches, fitness coaches etc). You are not alone on the path to better health. .

Combatting the bias and misconceptions of obesity

One of the misconceptions about obesity is the fact that some still view obesity as a result of personal failings or lack of willpower. However, such judgements ignore biological factors that contribute to the complex disease, such as genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and socio-economic status.

Genetic predisposition plays a role, with specific individuals being more prone to accumulating excess body fat due to their genetic makeup. Environmental factors, such as access to healthy foods and safe spaces for physical activity, significantly influence body weight, too. Moreover, socio-economic status affects obesity rates, with lower-income populations often facing higher risks due to limited access to nutritious food and health education.

A poignant example of why obesity should not be oversimplified as a matter of personal choice is the prevalence of childhood obesity. Children are especially vulnerable to the external factors that make them overweight, such as family dietary habits, physical activity levels, and socio-economic factors. eEarly onset of obesity can also set the stage for a lifetime of health challenges and exacerbate the emotional toll of societal stigma. If you are concerned about your child please arrange to see a doctor to discuss as early intervention is recommended.

How obesity can affect mental health? 

Studies have shown that being overweight or obese can increase your risk of mental health issues. This doesn’t mean that your mental health is the only thing that can influence your risk of obesity. But for some people, it may be a contributing factor.

Similarly, obesity or being overweight won’t automatically mean you have mental health issues. However, the risks are increased for some of the reasons listed below.

Can being depressed cause obesity?

Depression can lead to weight gain for a number of reasons. Firstly, being depressed can make you feel more tired and fatigued.. This can mean a reduction in physical activity.. If you are very sedentary, you’re at an increased risk of weight gain as you will be using less calories..

Secondly, depression can sometimes also lead to overeating. This can cause you to consume lots of calories, which when combined with inactivity may promote weight increase. Depression can also be linked to drinking more alcohol, and this too can contribute to weight gain. Clearly, over a period of time, weight gain can lead to obesity if left untreated.

Some people find depression causes them to lose their appetite. For others, their appetite can increase, which makes it harder to control portion sizes. Additionally, some medications used to treat depression can lead you to put on weight too.

It might be a combination of these factors that leads to weight gain during depression.

Does obesity lead to mental health issues?

Evidence shows being overweight or obese may affect your mental state in three main ways:

a. Biological reasons

Being overweight or obese can increase the number of inflammatory chemicals in your body. This can affect the way your brain works and may lead to a higher rate of depression.

b. Social reasons

People living with obesity can experience discrimination or stigma which can affect confidence and may lead to loneliness or feelings of isolation.

c. Psychological reasons

Being overweight or obese may lead to feelings of shame, or low self-esteem which can worsen mental health difficulties in some cases.

Addressing weight gain and obesity with Lifestyle medicine

Adopting a healthier lifestyle should extend beyond the narrow focus on weight loss to embrace a holistic view of health and well-being. Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based approach to healthcare which views health through 6 pillars of health. This means that doctors collaborate with you on long-term, lifestyle changes to deliver healthy longevity.

The best way to start is to book in for a Comprehensive Lifestyle Assessment or health check-ups. If you wish to have the time and receive bespoke personalised care, you may wish to consider private clinics in Singapore.

If you are concerned your child may have childhood obesity, please book in for a family health check-up as early intervention is recommended. .

Check out our frequently asked questions about obesity drugs.

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