“Weight Loss Doesn’t Always Lead to Happiness”

“The presumption is that congratulations are due when people slim down — their weight loss has surely made them happier, right? Even among academic researchers who study weight, obesity, and nutrition, that is a question that’s been looked at infrequently… Much of the work conducted by obesity researchers has centered around the intricacies of how and why people become obese and overweight, how and if excess weight is detrimental to health, and how to lose it. But there has also been a little exploration into how weight loss could affect the mind…
they narrowed down the original ELSA sample to 1,979 overweight or obese individuals who reported no long-standing illness or clinical depression at the start of the study. The researchers then plotted out changes in measured levels of depressed mood, psychological well-being, hypertension, and triglycerides over a four-year period (the latter two factors known to be strong indicators of cardiovascular health). Even as their hypertension and triglyceride levels decreased compared to weight maintainers and gainers, weight losers were more likely to be depressed. Equally jarring was the finding that the weight-loss group saw no improvement in psychological well-being compared to the other two, though all three groups reported a higher level of depressed mood and a lower level of well-being over the four year period…
And if weight loss isn’t making people happy, that could explain, at least in part, why many people struggle to keep weight off.”

This is really interesting, and there are a lot of further findings and nuances that I didn’t summarize here. There is a huge amount of research going on in neurobiology exploring the neural link to metabolism/weight loss (metabolic disorders have some genetic and mechanistic overlaps with brain disorders) and it’s all implicitly about sort of curing obesity. It makes me uncomfortable because it sort of pathologizes weight gain. It indicates to me all of the ways in which we, as a society, have labelled one body type as ‘healthy’ and another as diseased and immoral — when, in fact, it is individual to everyone. Body size should not be this identity that it is.

I think this speaks generally to the need for more norms of community support, reducing the shame and stigma around health issues, and giving people space to speak about their struggles outside of apologetic whispers.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.