Are you going on a weight loss journey or a mental health journey? Research suggests you can do both.

Physical benefits of weight loss

Losing weight is well-known for achieving numerous physical health benefits such as reducing your risk of developing serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and COVID-19 - as well as improving quality of life with increased energy, fitness and life expectancy.

But losing your excess weight can also benefit your mental health in numerous ways such as improved self-esteem, reduced stress, increased confidence, and reducing your risk of depression. 

Exercise and endorphins

Both exercise and diet have a huge impact on our mood - which are both key components of weight loss. Exercise in particular has the power to pump endorphins (the happy hormone) into your body which is where phrases like ‘the runner’s high’ comes from. All in all, exercise can give us plenty of feel-good chemicals.

Can weight loss interventions prevent depression? 

The Look AHEAD Research Group conducted a study focussing on overweight patients with type 2 diabetes. Their research found that those who'd received weight loss interventions were less likely to suffer from depression than those who hadn't.

Weight loss also achieves other positive mental health outcomes. Which ones? Let’s head over to a study conducted by James Cook University Australia:

“A review of 36 studies demonstrated consistent significant improvements in psychological outcomes following participation in a behavioural and/or dietary weight loss intervention both with and without exercise, post-intervention and at one year follow up. 

“Specifically, improvements in self-esteem, depressive symptoms, body image and health-related quality of life were observed.”

Not only does weight loss keep depression at bay but it can also improve our cognitive skills. 

Weight loss and cognitive skills

A study led by John Gunstad, Assistant Professor of psychology at Kent State University, revealed that losing excess weight may also improve concentration and cognitive abilities including memory. 

The study found that 12 weeks after losing weight, participants showed improvement in their memory. Those that improved their memory moved from the mildly impaired range into the normal range which is clinically significant.

Body image and social anxiety 

A negative view of your body image, in general, can cause suffering from social anxiety. This includes scenarios such as eating out, socialising with others and having your photograph taken. Weight loss can improve your view of your body image which in turn increases confidence and reduces social anxiety. 

In conclusion, losing your excess weight doesn’t only relieve a burden from your body but also your brain. If the physical benefits don’t tempt you to reduce your BMI consider the potential effects weight loss can have on your self-esteem, memory, depressive symptoms, social anxiety and more. 


Sign up for a FREE weight loss course

Essex Wellbeing Service is currently offering a broad variety of free weight loss courses across Essex. Delivered in a range of formats, you have the ability to lose weight, your way. If you’re ready to lose weight and start living a happier and healthier life, click below.

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