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Lose Weight in Order to Feel Great? Don’t Count on It

Lose Weight in Order to Feel Great? Don’t Count on It

How many times have you seen diet ads depicting people who finally lost that excess weight and are as ecstatic as can be with their new lives? Getting thin sure looks like a recipe for happiness! Alas, a new study suggests that that’s not actually the case. Not only do people who lose weight not feel happier, they often feel worse than they did before losing the weight.

Researchers from the University College London followed 2,000 overweight or obese Brits for a period of four years to better understand the interconnectivity between physical and mental health. Although the subjects who shed at least 5% of their body weight expected to be happier for slimming down, the results demonstrated that were more likely to suffer depression in conjunction with the weight loss.

Make no mistake – proper diet and exercise are fantastic ways to become physically healthier. The study also reconfirmed some long believed truths about losing weight, like that it lowers both blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. The researchers are obviously not attempting to encourage anyone to not engage in healthier activities. Rather, they are hoping to dispel the myth that life automatically gets better after losing weight.

Those who lost 5% of their weight were 78% more likely to experience depression than overweight and obese subjects. When excluding major life tragedies like the loss of a loved one, depression was still significantly higher among people who lost weight by a rate of 52%.

While the researchers are unable to say that weight loss causes depression based on their findings, lead author Dr. Sarah Jackson thinks these findings are important since they show that losing weight is not the fix-all that the media often portrays. She further theorizes that the stress of keeping the weight off becomes too much for some people to bear, contributing to a downward shift in mood.

“Resisting the ever-present temptations of unhealthy food in modern society takes a mental toll as it requires considerable willpower and may involve missing out on some enjoyable activities,” said Dr. Jackson. “Anyone who has ever been on a diet would understand how this could affect wellbeing.”

Since the study only covered a four year period, there is hope that happiness would be easier to achieve after learning to make weight maintenance a part of one’s ordinary routine. In the short term, however, the disappointment of finding that life isn’t magically better just because someone has a more slender frame can be more upsetting than not losing weight at all.

Regardless, this topic is one that deserves further exploration moving forward.

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238 comments

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11:37AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Well, I have to admit that the fibroids are better behaved now that I am 3 stone lighter which is a relief but I am well aware that this may only be temporary. I am also hugely aware of the fact that it is a year since I was diagnosed with being severely anaemic and that the NHS has put little effort in to doing much about it and even cancelled two of my appointments so it has been essential that I took heed of that gynie's advise/warning. I feel as though I have pretty much had to try to treat myself. I never expected miracles by my general self esteem or self image because I think that it is very important not to expect weight loss to miraculously make one feel and look amazing or happy. It is all a lot of nonsense when before my illness I enjoyed pizza and beer which I can ill afford to risk binging on anymore. I miss being care free about my weight now and can see the risks to one's mood so it is very important to make sure that a weight loss programme is going to be realistic and therefore sustainable. It is hard work, no doubt about it. I can see where this article is coming from.

6:51PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

ty

1:59PM PDT on Aug 18, 2014

Grazie.

8:01AM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

Thank you

8:43AM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Discernment is ever the key to the wisdom of what is right for you, the individual X

7:44PM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Smiling at Dimitris

3:55PM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

thanks

11:42AM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Several studies have found that long-term weight loss is impossible and that weight loss is not associated with any improvements in health. Healthy habits such as eating healthier foods and moderate exercise *are* associated with improvements in health. I highly recommend a Health At Every Size approach: focus on health, not intentional attempts to change body weight/size. I think people will be a lot happier when they can do that and not face stigma, bullying, and constant messages from the media that their size matters.

2:04AM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

thank you for the article

12:35AM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Thank you!

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