Medical Benefits of Weight Loss
People who lose weight find it easier to breathe – they require less effort to move around and get less puffed after exertion. That’s because losing weight reduces inflammation in the lungs and improves the mechanics of breathing. Obesity is also a risk factor for asthma.
The dangerous problem of sleep apnea is becoming more common due to obesity. In fact, being just slightly overweight affects your sleep, too. The lighter you are, the better rested you’ll be – which in turn helps with blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of heart attack and improves your overall health.
It can take just a month to turn your cholesterol levels around. Losing as little as five to 10kg can improve your cholesterol score enough to significantly reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
4. Aches & Pains
If you lose weight, you’re less likely to suffer the aches, pains and twinges that accompany lugging around those extra kilos. Back pain, in particular, is associated with being overweight – extra abdominal fat pulls the body forwards, affects your posture and adds strain to your back muscles.
Obesity and depression are linked: depression can cause overeating, and drugs can make you put on weight. It’s also known that a poor diet – one that’s low in folic acid, for instance – can also contribute to depression. The best solution is more exercise; while helping you lose weight, physical activity also increases the level of mood-elevating chemicals in the brain.
6. Better Bladder Control
Excess weight adds pressure to the abdomen and can worsen urinary incontinence.
Even doctors are amazed by the dramatic effect a mild drop in weight has on glucose metabolism; they think losing the “visceral” fat around the internal organs is responsible for this improvement in blood sugars. For people who already have diabetes, losing weight has also been shown to prevent complications.
Every time you take a step, your knee cops three times your body weight – make that five times when you run and seven when you jump. Even just a little excess weight can increase knee pressure enough to develop arthritis or increase the risk of needing knee surgery when you’re older.
Obesity is a big risk factor for infertility; abdominal fat changes sex hormones and can lead to irregular periods, problems with ovulation, increased risk of miscarriage; and decreased success with IVF. Obese men tend to have a lower sperm count than men with a healthy weight, and in women, just a modest weight loss can improve menstruation by 80% and increase the chance of pregnancy by 29%.
Dropping just a little weight between pregnancies reduces the risk of complications like pre-eclampsia. Being overweight is linked to a host of pregnancy problems, birth defects and a greater risk of childhood and adult obesity for the baby. So while it’s not advised to lose weight while you’re actually pregnant, think about losing a little before you conceive.
11. Breast Feeding
Women carrying extra kilos may experience delays in being able to produce breast milk, probably due to the body’s difficulty in metabolising sugar. That’s a worry – because if your milk doesn’t come in by day three, you’re more likely to give up breastfeeding altogether. It’s another reason to lose weight before you consider having a baby.
Being a little overweight has been linked to recurrent headaches in teenagers. In fact, there’s growing evidence that your weight impacts the health of your brain. For example, the heavier you are, the greater the risk of your brain being harmed by alcohol.
Overweight children have flatter feet, both because the extra weight pushes their feet flat, and because they have extra fat padding on the soles of their feet. Flat feet have been shown to lead to foot, ankle and back pain in later life.
14. Blood Pressure
Losing weight significantly reduces blood pressure and improves blood pressure control, lowering your risk of heart attack or stroke. That’s because even just a few extra kilos around the middle hinder the function of cells that line the blood vessels and stop them from contracting or dilating properly.
No cure for dementia currently exists. However, French researchers have discovered that simply boosting fruit and vegetable intake can cut down on its development. A recent study found that having a healthier diet, detecting glucose intolerance or insulin resistance before diabetes develops, and prompt treatment of depression can lead to a huge 21% drop in new cases of dementia. So take care of your health now – and eat loads of fruit and veg – as insurance for the future.
You don’t have to lose much weight to improve heart function. Studies have shown that dropping just a few kilos helps reduce thickening of the heart, which is a precursor to heart disease. Improving your cardiac output also helps to prevent angina – chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart.
Failing to keep a healthy body weight, be physically active every day and eat healthily accounts for a third of all cancers. Any weight loss is beneficial in reducing your chances of getting the Big C.
19. Your Mood
Losing a little weight evens out your hormones – more melatonin helps you rest and more serotonin lifts your mood. So it’s not just your new fantastic appearance that’s making you so happy. It’s your body saying thank you.