Wanting to look good is a big reason many people try to lose weight. We diet in anticipation of our wedding, school reunion or swimsuit season. If that motivates you to take better care of yourself, great! However, the reality is that if appearance is your sole motivator, the weight loss is usually short-term.
But there are other more significant reasons for losing extra weight. If you are overweight or obese, consider these benefits to shedding the pounds:
- Lower your risk of heart disease. Obesity increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Plaque builds up in coronary arteries when you have CHD. Blood then has less room to flow to the heart muscle, which can cause a heart attack. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.
- Lower blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force caused by the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Over time, high blood pressure can have negative effects throughout the body. It can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
- Help prevent stroke. Stroke is closely related to heart disease and high blood pressure. A stroke occurs when blood, which carries oxygen, is blocked from getting to the brain. Blood clots formed from plaque cause ischemic strokes. A broken artery in the brain, sometimes caused by high blood pressure, results in hemorrhagic stroke. Either can be debilitating or deadly.
- Help prevent or control type 2 diabetes. Most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight. People with diabetes do not make enough or use insulin properly. Their blood sugar level becomes too high, and their bodies do not have the ability to turn blood sugar into energy. Once you have diabetes, it is very important to keep your blood sugar levels steady to stave off other illnesses. In some cases, type 2 diabetes can be prevented even if you have prediabetes. Losing a little weight — like 10 or 15 pounds for a 200-pound person — can help prevent or delay the disease.
- Lower cholesterol. Having higher levels of triglycerides and LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, puts you at a greater risk of heart disease. So does having low levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol.
- Lower your cancer risk. You have a higher risk of colon, breast, endometrial and gallbladder cancers when you are obese or overweight.
- Lower the risk of developing gallstones. Gallstones consist mostly of cholesterol that has turned into hard material. They can cause pain in the stomach and back. Being obese or overweight means a higher risk of gallstones. It can also cause the gallbladder to get larger and not work as well.
- Protect your fertility. For women, obesity can cause menstrual problems and interfere with fertility.
- Improve symptoms of sleep apnea: Sleep apnea, or pauses in breathing, is more common in people who are obese or overweight. It disrupts sleep, making you tired during the day. You may not even know you have it — unless a bed partner hears you snoring or occasionally gasping for air.
- Energize. A national study of more than 10,000 people who have lost and kept off a significant amount of weight found that they reported a boost in their energy levels, general mood and confidence. Keeping weight at healthy levels and exercising can also help manage anxiety and depression.
Do you need more reasons to lose weight? Maybe you just want to play with your children or grandchildren more often, or have the stamina to enjoy a night out. Your reasons are good ones! Keep them in mind as you work toward your goal.
Created on 09/09/2004
Updated on 03/07/2013
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What are the health risks of overweight and obesity?
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is coronary heart disease?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing weight. What is healthy weight loss?