Obesity is a growing epidemic. Besides being a physical problem, it has many psychological effects. That’s mainly because society views the obese in a negative way – as ugly, lazy, unsuccessful and unhygienic. In short, it hurts to be fat, physically, psychologically and socially.
Obesity affects both the body and the mind of a person. When you are overweight, when your body fails to conform to the standards of acceptability, you feel disheartened. This coupled with failed attempts at losing weight can play havoc on the emotional well-being of an obese individual. Imagine a scenario where no fashion brand has the size to fit you!
You are constantly made to feel like you are worthless because you do not conform to an arbitrary measure of what is normal or acceptable. Low self-esteem, self-confidence and body image dissatisfaction are very common among overweight individuals. Obese women in particular have trouble finding romance because the standard of beauty set by society today requires a woman to be thin. This mindset may affect their prospect of finding a life partner.
A lot of obese people are reclusive and find it uncomfortable to go out with friends. For example, it is not uncommon for obese people to meet some disapproving stares on a crowded public transport. In fact, some people do not have doubts about letting an obese person know that he or she is taking up more space than he or she should.
Emotions may shape our eating patterns. In addition to depression and anxiety, other risk factors include problematic eating behaviors such as frequent snacking on high-calorie food, overeating and night-eating.
Obese people can often turn to substance abuse to cope with the problems and missed opportunities in their everyday life. Smoking is a common dependant tool. They believe smoking helps them fight stress and release anger and frustration.
Obesity is one of the main causes of sleep conditions including sleep apnea, snoring and insomnia. Sleep apnea and insomnia may lead to heart disease, which may be fatal.
Psychological and behavioral issues play significant roles in the both the development and consequences of obesity. A multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of obesity that addresses psychological, social, environmental and biological factors is critical to ensure comprehensive care, as well as best practices and outcomes. We should understand that obesity is not just the result of too much eating and leading sedentary lives, but there are many factors that contribute to it. Obese people should not hesitate to consult a diabetologist/bariatric surgeon/dietician.