The article is an overview of the impact of obesity on mental health on adults and in children. There is a both way connection between the mental illness and obesity, and life threatening diseases associated with obesity. According to the studies obesity has an adverse effect on mental health and if the impact lasts long it leads to poor quality of life and hence shortens the life span.
The rate of obesity has risen in many developed countries and India being a developing country is facing the burden of obesity because of low physical activity and the dietary intake. Obesity is a rising health concern mainly in urban India. Approximately 30-65% of adult urban population is categorised under overweight or obese and is increasing at an alarming rate. If obesity is not addressed on time, India can get worse especially in young people.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH
Obesity triggers psychological disorders such as low self esteem, body size out of proportion, depression etc. Being obese causes more psychological impact than other health problems.
According to WHO health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Thus we see mental health is an important part of health. The state of mental health determines how a person reacts to situations under stress or any other situations. The early symptoms may be gradual withdrawal from social activities, low energy and eating a lot.
WHAT IS OBESITY
Obesity can be explained as excessive accumulation of fat that can expose a body to certain health risks. A body mass index more than 30 is categorised under obesity. Few facts related to obesity that reflect its seriousness are given below.
-13 percent of the world suffer from obesity
-23% of the obese people are under depression
-The risk of type 2 diabetes is 30-70 percent in obese people
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OBESITY AND MENTAL HEALTH
Obesity and mental health have a knotty relationship. According to some research there is a both way relation between the two and some studies state no relationship between obesity and mental health. It is a known fact that obesity gives rise to various chronic diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, hypertension, joint pain, cardiovascular disease etc and most of them affect the person’s mental health.
Depression is the most common diagnosis when it comes to obesity and mental health. According to the research there is 50-55% chances of an obese person to fall into depression with time. The link between obesity and mental health is higher in women when compared to men. Around 50% of obese women and 41% of obese men are known to suffer from depression due to obesity. The healthcare professionals have found the drop in depression level with successful weight loss especially in women.
The certain factors that link obesity and mental health include stigma, diet and exercise, under medication for certain chronic diseases such as diabetes and negative thoughts resulting in low self esteem.
THE EFFECT OF OBESITY
Obesity being a lifestyle disorder is characterised by more intake of calories and less calories burnt. The sedentary lifestyle and poor quality of diet are the contributing factors to obesity. Stress is one of the main factors for obesity as there is a tendency to overeat under stress. The overeating causes obesity and the chronic state leads to depression.
Self stigma is one of the worst effects of obesity. The obese person has low self esteem, feel ashamed of their body, mood swings and are embarrassed to face certain situations.
Obesity can cause sleep apnea or sleep disturbance. Due to the excess weight the breathing stops for a few seconds resulting in sleep disturbance.
OBESITY LEADS TO THE FOLLOWING PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS
1)SELF ESTEEM- Obese adults especially women and children are found to have low self esteem when compared to the normal weight people of their age.
2)DEPRESSION & ANXIETY- There is a link between eating disorder and depression. According to the research higher prevalence of anxiety disorder is found in obese people.
3)BODY DISSATISFACTION – body dissastifaction is higher in females than males.
4)DIETING- Obese people tend to follow unhealthy dieting. It is commonly found in young people. Unhealthy dieting leads to eating disorder and weight gain.
5)RESTRICTED DIET – dietary restrain can cause binge eating and weight gain
HOW TO FIGHT OBESITY AND DEPRESSION
Obesity becomes a mental health issue that includes eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is linked with higher rate of obesity and depression. Binge eating is defined as intake of large amount of food in the same timeperiod than most people would do. Obesity and depression has a negative impact in the quality of life and shortens the life span.
As discussed above, with a loss of a few pounds the depression level can significantly come down. Obesity and depression can lead to several diseases hence it is extremely important to modify the diet and lifestyle.
It is closely connected to mental health as it reduces anxiety and stress by producing the hormones endorphins. An exercise in routine or getting involved in outdoor sports or whatever activities that raises the heart rate can make a great difference to your weight and manage the symptoms of depression.
A nutritious balanced diet will not only manage weight but is also healthy for mental health. A change in diet has shown a positive impact on the overall health of a person.
Do not set aside the symptoms if there is a weight gain. One must take the necessary steps in the initial stage of weight gain as it will be easy for the patient and the healthcare professional to manage.
EFFECT OF OBESITY ON ADULTS
There are several reasons how obesity can impact mental health in adults. Obesity is known to have adverse effects on mental well being of the person. It can lead to eating disorders,depression, negative thoughts, low self esteem etc.
Unhealthy lifestyle, eating processed food and using foods to manage thoughts or feelings, unsuccessful weight loss plan, certain medication and no support from family or friends, all these make obesity and mental health bi directional. Binge eating is done to suppress the negative mood, this results in weight gain and more depression.
Obesity in adults is more common in women and so is depression. Women are more concerned about their body when compared to men and are more likely to undertake weight loss treatment plans. Women happen to be more under pressure in getting fit and having a slim body.
Medication of certain psychological disease can lead to weight gain and the person might suffer more stress.
Younger women are at more risk of obesity and mental health. The belief of not being attractive, not beautiful, helplessness and the feeling of not being loved have psychological consequences. Women find it difficult and uncomfortable to approach for help.
METHODS TO INTERVENE
WEIGHT LOSS TREATMENT PLANS- Undertaking the weight loss programs has found to have a positive effect on the mood of a person. With a successful results the person’s self esteem is raised and is helpful to come out of depression
ADHERE TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES- Sticking to physical activities is associated with improving the physical and mental health.
DIET – According to the advice from the Mental Health Foundation, an improved diet improves the mood. A nutritious food is a tonic for both physical and mental health.
MANAGE THE STRESS- People usually eat at night during stress.Such people do not feel the hunger for breakfast. Thus overeating at night, skipping the breakfast and sleep disturbance leads to weight gain.Obese person can consult a psychologist to manage the stress level and can bring the change for the well being of self. Psychological approach have shown a successful result in obese depressed people.
EFFECT OF OBESITY ON CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
There is not much evidence on obesity and mental health in children and adolescents. However it can be said that obesity in young age can lead to depression in later life. An overweight child can have a low self esteem and self image conscious in later part of their life.
Due to obesity children are less mobile and with less energy the outdoor activity is less, this can lead to stress. The impact of obesity on mental health increases as the children grow and is more prevalent in girls.
Weight based teasing is a great concern for children and adolescents.
HOW TO MANAGE OBESITY AND MENTAL HEALTH IN CHILDREN
Early detection of obesity in children and its impact on mental health is important in managing the concern and preventing the psychological distress.
Children are not able to express their psychological status related to obesity. Hence strong understanding between the parents and children can prevent the psychological risk associated with obesity.
It is home where the child develops the eating habits and follows the lifestyle of their parents. It is important for the parents to follow a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet to inculcate the same in their children.
With the onset of stress arrives obesity and begins the onset of depression. Healthcare professionals can treat obesity and simultaneously cure stress and depression. A proper psychological and diet related counseling has a very important role in weight loss success and is said to improve the overall health of a person. In this fast paced and hectic environment it is not possible to avoid stress and everyone can fall prey to obesity. Weight loss is of great importance for the overall health of obese people. Even the individuals with no weight problems should maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle as prevention is always better than cure. A healthcare professional intricately handles obesity and related issues for the best result for clients.