Most people don’t think carrying a few extra pounds is a risk to their health. But the harsh reality is that being obese can take as many as 20 years off your life.
Fortunately, losing even just a small amount of weight can reduce and sometimes completely reverse the risks.
Do you need inspiration to slim down? These eight reasons to lose weight should give you the motivation you need.
1: You Could Reduce Your Risk of Developing Cancer
Women who are overweight are four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer. They are also more likely to get breast cancer. This is probably because body fat produces oestrogen, a hormone linked to both diseases. The University of Minnesota researchers also found that leptin, a hormone associated with weight gain, enhanced the proliferation of both normal and cancerous breast cells.
Make one change: Talk with your doctor about birth-control pills. Women who take a pill containing both oestrogen and progestin have a 50 % lower risk of developing endometrial cancer.
2: You Stay Sharp
As exercising improves blood flow throughout your body your chances of developing dementia caused by cardiovascular illness decreases as a result. 64% of people surveyed by the Alzheimer’s Society were unaware of the effect that exercise has on the risk of developing dementia. Susannah Spencer – a dementia specialist – from Country Court Care says “What’s good for the heart is good for the head and regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia, so it’s worrying that so many people questioned didn’t know that.”
Make one change: Start eating non-fat or low-fat yogurt for breakfast. The calcium encourages your body to burn rather than store abdominal fat.
Did you know? Researchers from Kaiser Permanente found that people with the fattest arms at ages 40 to 45 were 59 percent more likely to have dementia later in life.
3: Your Heart is Safer
The bigger you are the more likely you are to suffer a heart attack earlier in life—12 years sooner for the most obese, a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says. And overweight people are more likely to have diabetes and high cholesterol.
Make one change: Eat heart-healthy fare like dark leafy greens and unsalted nuts.
4: You Feel Less Depressed
There’s an association between obesity and depression, according to a recent study of 4,600 women between the ages of 40 and 65. About 6.5 percent of the women who had a normal body mass index (BMI) were depressed, whereas the disorder afflicted more than 25 percent of those with BMIs higher than 35.
In another study, researchers found a 25 percent increase in the risk of developing mood disorders among the obese. The stigma of being overweight plus limited physical activity could contribute to depression, researchers say.
Make one change: Seek out a therapist either through your employer (which might offer free on-site counselling) or a mental health clinic or hospital (some charge based on what you can pay).
5: You Lower Your Risk of Incontinence
Obese women are twice as likely as normal-weight women to have a pelvic-floor disorder. The most common problem is urinary incontinence, according to researchers for the National Institutes of Health’s Pelvic Floor Disorders Network; other complications include faecal incontinence and pelvic-organ prolapse (when the uterus, bladder, small intestines or rectum sag into the vaginal area).
Make one change: Losing even 5 % of your body weight can take the pressure off your pelvic floor. You can also reduce your risk by eliminating caffeine, which can irritate your bladder, and by doing Kegel exercises.
6: You Protect Vital Organs
Swedish researchers have reported that being overweight triples the risk of chronic renal failure (CRF), a gradual, irreversible loss of kidney function. The researchers estimate that obesity causes 11 percent of CRF cases in women. Likewise, having a higher BMI increases the risk of gallbladder disease, according to researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
Make one change: To keep kidneys healthy, swap sodas for sparkling water flavoured with lime or lemon.
7: Your Joints Feel Less Stressed
Arthritis cases attributed to obesity rose from 3 percent in 1971 to 18 percent in 2002, according to researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston.
Make one change: Walk! Taking a stroll five days a week can improve arthritis symptoms.
8: You may breathe better
Studies have linked the risk of asthma with obesity. Researchers at National Jewish Health in Denver reported that glucocorticoids (meds that control wheezing) are 40 percent less effective in overweight patients than in those of normal weight.
Make one change: Increase your vitamin D intake—which can help improve lung function.
Did you know? Obesity is the No. 1 risk factor for sleep apnoea. Extra body fat in the chest and neck can restrict air passages, causing you to wake up frequently to help catch your breath.