Benefits of losing weight Many of us worry about getting a bit too heavy, especially as we get older. Being overweight can have many adverse affects on health and getting down to a healthy weight will not only make you feel better, but will dramatically improve your health. Firstly what do we mean by a healthy weight? Doctors calculate what is called your body mass index or BMI. This is the ratio of your weight in kilograms to height in metres. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 to 25. 25-30 is classed as overweight. A BMI over 30 is classed as obese and over 40 is classed as dangerously or morbidly obese. BMI is a good measure for most people. However for people who are very muscular it may give a falsely high reading. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes sometimes runs in families, but in the western world it is cause largely by obesity.In recent years the number of people suffering from diabetes has soared in the western world. Sometimes patient who are overweight and diabetic can reverse their diabetes just by losing sufficient weight. However all diabetic patients will benefit from weight loss. It will improve blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. One of the causes of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels is being overweight. High blood pressure and cholesterol increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks, so weight loss is recommended as part of a number of lifestyle changes to patients with these conditions. Being overweight puts excessive strain on all the joints in the body. Over a period of time this will increase wearing out of the joints and can lead to osteoarthritis. This occurs particularly in knee and hip joints. In such patients weight loss will not only slow down further wearing out of joint surfaces but will also reduce joint pain. Non weight bearing exercise, such as swimming or static cycling are good forms of exercise in overweight patients, to minimise further joint damage. Excess weight around the abdomen put a lot of pressure on the blood vessels in the lower part of the body. This can cause valves in veins to fail and can lead to problems such as varicose veins and piles. Again weight loss in such patients will improve these conditions. Snoring is a common problem and can be very disturbing for the bed partner of a snorer! One cause of snoring is excess fat around the neck causing obstruction of the upper airway when sleeping. Weight loss can, in some cases, completely cure snoring. In patients who are very overweight severe snoring can sometimes lead to sleep apnoea. This is when the person stops breathing for a few seconds many times during the night. Over a period of time this puts a lot of strain on the heart. One of the first recommended treatments for this condition is weight loss. Patients who are overweight are at increased risk of complications if they need to have a general anaesthetic. Indeed some operations will only be undertaken if a patient loses weight first. Complications after surgery such as chest infections and skin infections are also increased in overweight patients. In women, obesity can lead to irregular periods and difficulty conceiving. Weight loss, in these circumstances, can help make periods regular and the chance of conceiving higher. In addition, many complications of pregnancy and childbirth are made worse by being overweight. Skin infections such as intertrigo, which is a mixed fungal and bacterial skin infection, occur more commonly in overweight people. These infections usually occur in skin folds, where the temperature will be higher allowing excessive bacterial and fungal growth. Intertrigo often occurs under the breast and in abdominal fat folds. In people suffering from lung disorders such as asthma or COPD, being overweight will make breathing more difficult. This is because the ribs have to push any excess fat tissue when breathing in and this action uses a lot of energy. Weight loss in overweight patients with any long term respiratory problems will make breathing easier. The risk of developing certain cancers, such as breast, bowel and uterine cancer, can be reduced by losing weight. Another very important reason for losing weight is self esteem. Being overweight can lead to low self esteem and depression in some people. Apart from the numerous physical health benefits of weight loss, the process of losing weight will be beneficial to your mental health.

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