Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States, with more than one third of U.S. adults now diagnosed as obese. Being obese or overweight comes with a large number of inherent physiological and emotional issues, so it’s no wonder people have several reasons for wanting to lose weight.
The most critical reason for losing weight is improved health. Fifty percent of participants in a 2007 study of overweight and obese people cited health improvement as the No. 1 reason for wanting to lose weight. Being overweight is associated with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. The World Health Organization notes that being overweight is the fifth leading cause of global death. Losing weight decreases the risk of many of these health consequences and can actually reverse some conditions, including type 2 diabetes.
Improved appearance or vanity is the second most cited reason for wanting to lose weight. People who are overweight often suffer from prejudice and discrimination both in their personal and professional lives. In the workplace, overweight people are less likely to be hired and when they are, they are often given lower wages. The media fascination with thin models and actors also feeds the stigma that many people have, often leading them to believe that, regardless of how much weight they have to lose, they will be perceived more positively if they shed weight.
Improved mood is another important reason for losing weight. The insecurities associated with being discriminated against foster depression and low self-esteem. There is also some evidence that mood disorders and obesity are actually linked and that depression and bipolar disease may be a precursor to obesity. Fatigue and sluggishness that comes with being overweight can also contribute to depressive symptoms. A 2009 study led by Lucy Faulconbridge and presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior has shown that weight loss actually improves mood.
Improved fitness is also a top reason for losing weight, especially for men who are deemed overweight but otherwise healthy, according to a study published in the "International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders." Most physical movement, from walking to running is easier for normal weight people. For those who are interested in participating sport or physical activity, losing weight can help them to improve athletic performance.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Adult Obesity Facts
- Eating Behaviors: Reasons for Wanting to Lose Weight: Different Strokes for Different Folks; K. O’Brien, et al.
- World Health Organization: Obesity and Overweight.
- MedlinePlus: Diabetes Can Take a Toll on Your Emotions
- AAARP.org: Boss Says, You’re Too Fat
- Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: Are Mood Disorders and Obesity Related?...; S.L. McElroy, et. al.
- Science Daily: Weight Loss Improves Mood in Depressed People, New Research Shows
- International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Why Lose Weight?...; C.R. Hanley, et. al.
Andrea Chrysanthou began writing professionally in 1993. Her work has been published internationally by "The Cyprus Mail," MochaSofa and My Favorite Trainer, among other magazines and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in journalism from Ryerson University. Chrysanthou is a certified fitness instructor and personal-training specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the fitness industry.