Depression is often linked with obesity but while the two conditions frequently occur together, it is unclear exactly which is cause and which is effect. For some people being overweight leads to depression, while for others mental illness can lead to changes in behaviour that lead to weight gain.
A recent study of 9,000 American adults by the Group Health Centre for Health Studies found that an obese person is about 25% more likely to have a mood or anxiety disorder, such as depression. The study indicated that those with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30 were far more susceptible to major depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia.It is clear too, that the link between obesity and depression is an important public health issue with both having an impact on health care systems. Obesity and associated health conditions are estimated to cost the economy $7 billion each year, while the costs of mental illness have been put at $9 billion annually.So could joining a slimming group help to lift the burden?”Slimming World understands very well the links with depression and overweight and obesity. The enormous burden of guilt, low self-esteem and negative critical emotions are all totally prohibitive and damaging to a successful weight loss campaign,” says Caryl Richards, Slimming World’s Managing Director.”Our approach has always been to raise members’ low self-esteem as a first step to successful weight loss. From the very first moment that a new member steps into a Slimming World group we work hard to make them feel safe in an environment where they are comfortable to seek appropriate help and take decisions about eating matters and lifestyle habits often learned over a lifetime. While healthy eating advice and techniques to build activity into daily life are important, we know that building members’ own self-confidence is the key to helping them make changes for a healthy lifestyle.”A study by Slimming World, the UK’s biggest commercial slimming organisation, published in Public Health, found that before joining Slimming World participants had low ratings of well-being compared to the local population. After attending Slimming World groups and losing weight, participants who completed 12 weeks recorded significant improvements in their sense of well-being, reporting feelings of calmness, increased energy and positive feelings of self-confidence.In a separate study of a Slimming on Referral scheme conducted with Kent Police Authority and in partnership with the British Dietetic Association Weightwise at Work scheme, Kent Police Authority employees who completed the scheme reported positive feeling of wellbeing: 94% felt a sense of achievement; 76% felt healthier, and 24% felt less anxious or depressed. In addition there was evidence that mood and energy levels were elevated after participation in the scheme.”The findings confirm the effectiveness of Slimming World’s approach and our emphasis on group support and individual motivation,” says Caryl Richards.”We are frequently delighted by members who tell us that the greatest result of their weight loss is their increased self-confidence and how they have been inspired to make major changes to their lives.”(Source: Public Health : May 2007.)