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If you’re someone who is carrying a little extra body weight, losing weight can be a game-changer for your overall health, and it’s not just about the number on the scale. Whether you’re just starting your weight loss journey or you’re close to your goal weight, dropping a few kilos can greatly reduce your risk factors for many health conditions and lead to benefits of improved sleep quality, boosted confidence, better sex life and more.

Check out these eight reasons to lose weight to feel healthier and happier, mentally and physically.

Lower your risk of heart disease

Obesity contributed to 25% of the disease burden associated with coronary heart disease in Australia in 2015 (1).

Being overweight can increase the fatty build-up in your arteries, making excess weight a major risk factor for heart disease. Weight loss can help to lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol levels, and improve your insulin sensitivity. All of these factors are key contributors to heart disease, so by shedding the extra kilos, you’re taking vital steps to protect your heart health.

Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes

Excess weight is the root cause of over half (53%) of diabetes cases in Australia (2).

There is a strong link between obesity and type 2 diabetes, with obesity being a major risk factor for developing diabetes (3). The good news is that losing weight can significantly decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When you drop the amount of fat in your body, insulin resistance improves. Insulin resistance is a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes, as it makes it harder for your cells to respond to insulin – a hormone in the pancreas responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.

Lower your blood pressure

Obesity may account for 78% of hypertension cases in men (4).

Excess weight can be a real danger to your health, especially when it comes to blood pressure. When you start to gain extra weight, your body produces more of a hormone called leptin, which can increase your blood pressure. This can put extra stress on your heart and make it harder for blood to flow through your vessels.

Weight loss is one way to improve your blood pressure. When you put effort into reaching a healthy weight, there’s less pressure on your heart to pump blood through your body. Plus, losing weight can reduce inflammation, which is another cause of high blood pressure.

Just make sure you go about losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way rather than following the latest crash diets or quick fixes you’ve spotted on social media. Talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional to come up with a plan that works for you, including regular exercise and a balanced diet.

Improve your sleep quality

It’s estimated that 58% of moderate-to-severe sleep apnea can be attributed to excess weight (5).

This is likely due to excess fat and reduced muscle activity in the upper respiratory tract narrowing the airway and making it more susceptible to snoring (6). As a result, the more narrow the airway, the louder the snoring (7).

Weight loss has been identified as an effective non-surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Losing weight can significantly improve the severity and frequency of apnea events by reducing excess weight and fat around the neck area, making it easier for air to pass through (5).

 

Melatonin for sleep

Boost your energy levels

 If you’re feeling sluggish and low on energy, shedding excess weight can give you a much-needed energy boost. For starters, losing weight can reduce the workload on your body, allowing you to complete everyday tasks with more ease and less fatigue.

Moreover, carrying excess weight can put undue pressure on your heart and lead to feelings of exhaustion. By losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight, you can take the load off your cardiovascular system, improving circulation and oxygen delivery, resulting in a major energy lift.

Improve your mental health

Research suggests that between 20% to 60% of individuals with obesity also suffer from psychiatric illnesses (8).

Studies have shown that people who are obese are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. And it’s not just a one-way street. People with depression are also more likely to become obese (9). It’s a vicious cycle.

But here’s the good news. Losing weight can help improve your mental health and have a positive impact on your brain function. When you lose weight, blood flow to the brain rises, which can enhance the function of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine – the hormones responsible for regulating mood, sleep, and appetite.

It’s important to note that weight loss isn’t a magic cure for mental health problems; however, it can help. So, if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, losing weight might be one of the steps you can take to improve your mood and overall well-being alongside healthy eating and regular exercise.

Increase your overall confidence

People who struggle with obesity often face discrimination in education, relationships, and healthcare (10).

This prejudice can seriously knock confidence and self-worth, leading to loneliness, low self-esteem, and an increased risk of depression and anxiety (11,12). Losing weight can have a positive impact on how you see yourself, leading to improved body image and physical health that boosts self-esteem.

Keep in mind that self-esteem is complex and not only about what shows up on the scales. Building positive relationships, doing things you enjoy, and developing new skills and interests can all help boost your self-worth. So, don’t be afraid to take small steps toward a healthier, happier version of yourself.

Enhance your sex life

Dropping weight can improve physical fitness and stamina, helping you to perform better in the bedroom. It can also improve hormone balance, particularly testosterone levels – a key hormone involved in male sexual function. Maintaining healthy testosterone levels can lead to improved sexual desire and performance. Then there are the effects of improved cardiovascular health and better blood circulation in forming stronger erections and longer-lasting sexual encounters.

Remember, losing weight isn’t just about looking good, it’s about feeling good and living your best life. So, take a holistic approach to weight loss and make sustainable changes that will improve your overall health and well-being.

References

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015: Interactive data on risk factor burden., AIHW, Australian Government https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/interactive-data-risk-factor-burden
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of Disease Study. Available at https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/impact-of-overweight-and-obesity-as-a-risk-factor-for-chronic-conditions/contents/table-of-contents
  3. Barnes AS. The epidemic of obesity and diabetes: trends and treatments. Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(2):142-144. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3066828/
  4. Aronow WS. Association of obesity with hypertension. Ann Transl Med. 2017;5(17):350. doi:10.21037/atm.2017.06.69 https://atm.amegroups.com/article/view/15832/html
  5. Young T, Peppard PE, Taheri S. Excess weight and sleep-disordered breathing. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005;99(4):1592-1599. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00587.2005 https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00587.2005
  6. Jehan S, Zizi F, Pandi-Perumal SR, et al. Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Obesity: Implications for Public Health. Sleep Med Disord. 2017;1(4):00019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836788/
  7. Sleep Health Foundation Snoring Fact Sheet,22 July 2016. Available at https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/snoring.html Accessed December 2021.
  8. Sarwer DB, Polonsky HM. The Psychosocial Burden of Obesity. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2016;45(3):677-688. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2016.04.016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6052856/
  9. National Health and Medical Research Council (2013). Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Available at https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/clinical-practice-guidelines-management-overweight-and-obesity
  10. Puhl RM, Heuer CA. Obesity stigma: important considerations for public health. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(6):1019-1028. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.159491 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866597/
  11. Jung FU, Luck-Sikorski C. Overweight and Lonely? A Representative Study on Loneliness in Obese People and Its Determinants. Obes Facts. 2019;12(4):440-447. doi:10.1159/000500095 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31315116/
  12. Friedman KE, Reichmann SK, Costanzo PR, Zelli A, Ashmore JA, Musante GJ. Weight stigmatization and ideological beliefs: relation to psychological functioning in obese adults. Obes Res. 2005;13(5):907-916. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.105 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15919845