Weight loss won’t make you happy

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No one can argue that losing weight isn’t good for your physical health. But does it really make you happy? A new study finds that people who lost 5% or more of their original weight over four years showed improved health. However, they were more likely to report low mood than people who stayed at their original weight over the same period.

More likely to be depressed

After adjusting for other causes of depressed mood, participants who lost weight were 52% more likely to report symptoms of depression. “We do not want to discourage anyone from trying to lose weight, which has tremendous physical benefits, but people should not expect weight loss to instantly improve all aspects of life,” explained lead author Dr. Sarah Jackson, University College London’s Epidemiology and Public Health department.

Restraint takes a toll

“Resisting the ever-present temptations of unhealthy food in modern society takes a mental toll, as it requires considerable willpower and may involve missing out on some enjoyable activities. Anyone who has ever been on a diet would understand how this could affect well-being. However, mood may improve once target weight is reached, and the focus is on weight maintenance. Our data only covered a 4-year period so it would be interesting to see how mood changes once people settle into their lower weight,” continued Dr. Jackson.

The study did have some limits

While most negative life events were considered for the study, it wasn’t possible to capture everything that could contribute to a depressed state. Job loss, for instance, was not factored in. The study also used predominantly white and older adults. And then how does one measure “happy”? “The use of an arbitrary, invalidated threshold to indicate low levels of well-being is also problematic, and we observed some differences in results when well-being data were analyzed continuously, so these results should be interpreted with caution,” stated Dr. Jackson.

Source: David McNamee/MedicalNewsToday, PLOS ONE

 
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