Obesity is not the same thing as being overweight. People who are overweight have an estimated body mass index (BMI) of approximately 25 to 30. BMI is one way health care providers are able to screen for obesity as it measures an individual’s body fatness.
People who are obese are estimated to have a BMI that is 30 or higher. Degrees of obesity can be broken down into three subdivided categories: class 1 of obesity is a BMI of 30 to 35, class 2 is 35 to 40, class 3 is 40+. People who fall into the class 3 of obesity may be considered extreme cases.
The World Health Organization has reported that obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions globally, with approximately 2.8 million people dying every year as a result of weight-related health problems. Obesity is a major contributing risk factor for a variety of health problems including diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), heart attack, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, gallstones, and osteoarthritis. These health conditions are more than small problems. In fact, they are conditions known to significantly increase the risk of early death.
The many different overweight and obesity-related health problems facing Americans are not limited to the body. Did you know that obesity can also cause a variety of mental health problems?
Here are the top five mental health problems associated with obesity.
- Depression. Studies have repeatedly shown the link between obesity and depression. Day-to-day interpersonal discrimination, low-self esteem, and lower levels of self-acceptance, a symptom associated with depression, have been observed in obese patients.
In a recent systematic review of the relationship between depression and obesity, results confirmed the link between the two. Obesity was found to increase the risk of developing depression, and in addition depression was found to be predictive of the development of obesity.
In youth, the relationship between obesity and depression has also been confirmed. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that obese children were 5.5 times more likely to have an impaired quality of life than kids who maintained a healthy weight.
- Substance Abuse. Overweight and obese individuals may have an increased risk of developing psychiatric illness related to substance abuse.
Overweight people and those suffering from obesity have been clinically linked to the excessive and dysfunctional use of substances including alcohol, drugs, nicotine and food. Researchers hypothesize that this could be because overeating and compulsive use of substances compete for the same reward systems in the brain.
- Social Problems. Kids can be so cruel… but for obese children, other kids may be downright bullies. Studies have confirmed that obese children are 63 percent more likely to be bullied by other kids.
The cruelty itself is enough to cause significant damage to the psyche of obese children. They may withdraw socially, cause behavioral disruptions, or even miss school more than children at a healthy weight.
- Eating Disorders. These behaviors can include binge eating disorder (BED), and Night Eating Syndrome (NES). Evidence from numerous studies supports the relationship between obesity and eating disorders.
Research has revealed that subjects showed brain anomalies as seen through neuroimaging related to obesity and eating disorders of binge eating or anorexia nervosa.(8)
- Obesity. It may sound strange, but some psychologists have suggested that obesity itself is the psychiatric disorder, representing a dysfunction in genetics, anatomy, physiology, environmental factors and the inability of the brain to properly regulate behavior. The brains of obese people must decide whether to eat based on hunger, satiety and other factors however, the decision is highly influenced by abnormal changes in the brain.
Researchers have found that the living bacteria inside the digestive system can influence nutrient metabolism, hormone production and even the way our brains work.(9) Scientists have called it the “gut-brain” connection and clinical results showed that people with a healthy gut microbiome are less likely to crave sugary, processed or fatty foods – major contributors to obesity.
How to Take Action!
There are many ways you can help yourself or someone you love suffering from obesity. Just follow these 5 essential anti-obesity tips!
- Practice Mindful Eating. Eating in front of the T.V. out of a box or bag is the fastest way to consume thousands of unwanted calories. And right under your nose! Practice portion control by pouring each serving into a coffee cup before you sit down to restrict mindless eating.
- Don’t Worry About Your Weight. The number you see when you step on the scale is just that: A number. It has nothing to do with your overall health, and it certainly shouldn’t dictate what you put in your mouth. Aim to eat natural foods whenever possible, and allow your body to just be healthy.
- Make a Friend. Don’t brave obesity alone! There are plenty of nay-sayers out there, but not many people who will support you. So make as many like-minded friends as possible. They can help you stay on track to long-term success!
Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?
One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.
But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.