Weight loss may make you healthier but not happier

LONDON: Losing weight can make you healthier but it may also increase your risk of depression, a new study has found. Weight loss significantly improves physical health but effects on mental health are less straightforward, researchers said. In a study of 1,979 overweight and obese adults in the UK, people who lost 5 per cent or more of their initial body weight over four years showed significant changes in markers of physical health, but were more likely to report depressed mood than those who stayed within 5 per cent of their original weight.

The research by University College London highlights the need to consider mental health alongside physical health when losing weight. Clinical trials of weight loss have been shown to improve participants’ mood, but this could be a result of the supportive environment rather than the weight loss itself, as the effects are seen very early on in treatment and are not related to the extent of weight loss.

The data came from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a UK study of adults aged 50 or older, and excluded participants with a diagnosis of clinical depression or a debilitating illness. Of the 1,979 overweight and obese participants, 278 (14%) lost at least 5 per cent of their initial body weight with a mean weight loss of 6.8kg per person. Before adjusting for serious health issues and major life events such as bereavement, which can cause both weight loss and depressed mood, the people who lost weight were 78% more likely to report depressed mood.

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