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Obesity: It’s not about looks! Excess weight can affect mental health – expert explains health news


Obesity means an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that poses a health risk. According to the World Health Organization, a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is considered obese. Functional nutritionist Mocha Pradhan, CEO and founder, iThrive – a platform that provides health solutions for chronic ailments – shares, “Obesity has become a global health crisis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It is not just an aesthetic problem as there are still many Believe it or not, it’s a complex health problem with profound psychological implications. The relationship between obesity and mental health is multifaceted, with a variety of interrelated factors at play.”

How obesity affects mental health

Mocha Pradhan explained how obesity can seriously affect a person’s mental health, thus highlighting the importance of tackling the problem.

1. Physiological effects

Adipose tissue, which stores excess body fat, is known to secrete inflammatory cytokines, Pradhan said. “These molecules lead to increased inflammation, which, in turn, has been linked to mental health disorders, especially depression. People with obesity are more prone to experience depressive symptoms due to inflammatory processes triggered by excess body fat,” he added. ..

“Inflammation” is a term used to describe an age-related increase in pro-inflammatory markers found in blood and tissues. “Obesity plays an important role in driving this phenomenon. As fat accumulates, it triggers chronic inflammation throughout the body, which can contribute to cognitive decline and various mental health problems. It is important to maintain a healthy body composition to prevent the onset. points to the importance of inflammatory mental health problems,” the chief said.

Obesity negatively affects almost every organ in the body, including the brain, explains Pradhan. This condition can lead to poor metabolic health, leading to insulin resistance, which disrupts neurotransmitter and hormonal balance. The nutritionist adds, “The brain depends on a delicate balance of these chemicals to regulate mood, emotions and overall mental well-being. When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to conditions like anxiety and depression.”

Pradhan noted that obesity is not a stand-alone health condition. “In functional medicine, we treat it as a symptom, usually caused by some underlying chronic health condition in the body, such as hypothyroidism, gut dysbiosis, subclinical infections, toxin overload, etc.,” she says.

2. Cravings and food addictions

Obesity often results in high cortisol levels, which, in turn, lead to cravings for more food to relieve stress. Pradhan says, “The cycle becomes self-perpetuating: People with obesity are driven to eat more, which in turn releases serotonin and dopamine—the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals. This can create a dangerous cycle of binge eating and food addiction. Mental Health It’s getting worse.”

3. Body image, self-esteem, and why body positivity doesn’t work

In addition to indirectly affecting mental health by impairing physical health, as mentioned above, obesity can directly affect mental health through body image problems and reduced self-esteem. “Despite the efforts of body positivity advocates, people struggling with obesity often face social stigma and internalized negativity. This negative self-concept can contribute to poor mental health, as low self-esteem and body image issues can lead to conditions such as depression and anxiety.” , said the chief. She adds, “The body positivity movement tries to undo these negative effects by advocating for social acceptance of obese body types. However, it does nothing to reverse the physiological problems associated with obesity, and so even if body positivity works, people with obesity continue to suffer from its physiological effects.”

Tackling obesity: action must be taken

The link between obesity and mental health is a two-way street. Obesity not only increases the risk of mental health problems, but mental health problems can also contribute to obesity, as mental distress can lead to overeating or unhealthy food choices and poor physical health in general, Pradhan said.

“To address this complex problem, a holistic approach is needed. Individuals must receive support for their physical and psychological well-being. Public health efforts should focus on prevention and intervention strategies that consider the complex interplay between obesity and mental health. On both sides of the issue, we Let’s take a step towards improving the overall well-being of those affected by this challenging condition,” the Pradhan said.