Are bodyweight and mental health connected?

Although bodyweight is usually associated with our physical health, with measurements such as BMI, body fat percentage and terms such as overweight and underweight, there is also a less-explored connection between weight and mental health.



What is the relationship between bodyweight and mental health?

A 2009 report suggested that people suffering from chronic anxiety and depression were more likely to gain weight, and in some cases were twice as likely to be considered clinically obese. Psychiatrists have stated that this connection between bodyweight and mental health conditions is likely due to the person experiencing an increase in appetite and a tendency, perhaps due to a lack of energy, for less regular exercise.

Obesity can also intensify symptoms of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression due to low self-esteem or body image issues. Unfortunately, this can cause a sort of unhealthy cycle where the mental health conditions are affecting bodyweight, and bodyweight is affecting mental health.

What is Emotional Eating?

‘Emotional eating’ is a term used to describe times where you may eat to feel better mentally or to relieve stress rather than to satisfy physical hunger. It is often associated with eating unhealthy foods, and during times of increased stress, some people may use food to fulfil their emotional needs.

This process can also lead to a cycle of behaviour in which something may negatively affect your emotions and mental health. You may then feel an overwhelming urge to eat, eat more than you should be, and then experience feelings of guilt or powerlessness which may affect your mental health and so forth.

Emotional eating can be stopped by identifying your personal triggers and reasons for overeating. These triggers are often stress, uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety, feelings of boredom or emptiness, childhood habits or overindulgence.

Introducing healthy lifestyle habits can help with emotional eating. These changes can include prioritising daily exercise, ensuring you get enough sleep, making time to relax and connecting with friends and family.

Everybody has a unique relationship with their bodyweight and mental health, so if you are struggling then do make sure you contact a mental health professional. Any attempts to lose weight must be safe and realistic for you.

NHS Obesity Overview

Is your mental health connected to weight loss?

As well as a relationship between a person’s mental health and weight gain, mental health can also be connected to weight loss. Feelings of stress and anxiousness, and a loss of appetite can affect bodyweight and cause you to lose weight.

It is also possible for people to develop eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. A 2015 report by Beat revealed around 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, and 89% of these are women.

These conditions are often associated with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It is not always clear whether the eating disorder or anxiety disorder came first.

The most common anxiety disorder associated with eating disorders or anxiety disorders around food is obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. People who suffer from both of these disorders can develop compulsive rituals connected to food and bodyweight. Women are also more likely to develop bulimia if they are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you’re concerned about an eating disorder or your relationship between mental health and weight loss, then contact a health professional. It is important that any attempts to gain weight are safe and realistic for you.

Advice for Underweight Adults

Your relationship with mental health and bodyweight

As mentioned, everybody has a unique relationship with their bodyweight and mental health, and the two are evidently related whether you’re experiencing symptoms of depression and weight gain or symptoms of anxiety and weight loss.

What’s important is to know what weight is healthy for you, and to have an understanding of your relationship with potentially over or under-eating. Take a look at our range of accurate Class III approved floor scales, ideal for monitoring your weight and keeping you on track with the help and advice of medical professionals. If you have any health concerns, please contact your GP.

Further Reading

Discover our Marsden BIA Scales designed to calculate your body composition and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. What is BIA.

With over 90 years in the weighing scales industry, we’ve answered all of your questions regarding Body Mass Index in The Ultimate Guide to BMI.

When home scales are cheaper, it seems obvious to choose them over medical weighing scales. But what is the difference?

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