New research from CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet shows that better health is the number one reason people want to lose weight. It also suggests weight loss is the best medicine for a range of chronic health conditions.
As many as 87 percent of survey respondents said that they were suffering from at least one health condition and around half of respondents reported having three or more serious health problems.
The good news is that the same respondent overwhelmingly reported that losing weight and becoming more active helped them improve those health conditions. The more weight they lost, the more their health improved.
However, it’s not about losing lots of weight. Research shows that for obese individuals, the first 5 percent of body weight they lose results in the greatest benefits.
So, what health conditions can be improved by slimming down? It turns out, quite a few. And since many of these health conditions tend to reinforce themselves, so improving one of them can lead to an improvement in several.
Australians are developing type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate and according to Diabetes NSW 1.3 million Aussies are now living with the disease. An unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activity are two of the drivers behind the disease.
Although age, family history and ethnicity are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, losing weight and living an active lifestyle are the best things you can do to lower your risk of developing the disease.
According to the American Heart Association, reducing your body weight by 5 to 7 percent can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent if you’re in a high risk category.
Poor sleep is a vicious and self-reinforcing cycle. You sleep poorly, and wake up the next day feeling worn out with less energy to exercise or be active. Then you go to bed tired but because you can’t sleep properly it starts all over again.
Know what gives you really poor sleep? Sleep apnoea does. Our survey showed that 40 percent of members improved their symptoms of sleep apnoea after losing weight. Weight loss and drinking less alcohol are the best ways to avoid developing or improve symptoms of sleep apnoea.
Learn more: Ian’s wife no longer sleeping in a separate room
Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues have something in common with poor sleep: if you constantly feel down, it's hard to focus on eating well and exercising, which means you're stuck in a bad cycle.
Studies have shown there is direct links between diet and depression. Improving your diet is a major step towards improving mental health by boosting confidence and lessening anxiety.
Although weight loss and proper diet are not a cure for depression, a well balanced diet actively promotes better mental health.
In fact, 45 percent of surveyed members reported improving their mental condition since losing weight with the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet.
Carrying a lot of extra weight leads to joint pain and extra stress on your body which means your muscles and bones must work extra hard to keep you going.
Of course, not all body pain is caused by excess weight, but as many as 40 percent of the members in our survey reported that losing weight helped them lessen their daily body aches.
Obese individuals (i.e. those with a BMI over 30) have a much higher risk of developing asthma – and women more so than men. While it’s not yet clear why obesity can exacerbate asthma, it's clear that there is a strong connection between the two.
Asthma is another one of those self-reinforcing conditions in that breathing difficulties tend to discourage people from being active. While not all cases of asthma are caused by obesity, if you are both overweight and have asthma, you may be able to alleviate the symptoms by losing weight.
Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of those sneaky conditions that you don't really notice day to day but can take a toll on your health. When your blood pressure is in the high range, your heart has to work harder.
It is the single most important risk factor for strokes so lowering your blood pressure by losing weight and exercising regularly is the best way to prevent strokes and other heart diseases. Nearly half of our surveyed members reported lowering their blood pressure while on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet.
High cholesterol is another sneaky condition that you don't notice in your everyday life but that harms your heart in the long run. It can be pretty grim reading but high cholesterol can lead to chest pain, stroke and heart attack.
If you want to lower your cholesterol, losing weight with a diet that includes healthy fats and plenty of fibre is your best bet. More than half of the members in our survey reported that their cholesterol levels improved while on our program.
Obesity is associated with influencing the levels of estrogen in women (too much) and testosterone in men (too little). This means that both men and women who are overweight can suffer from lowered fertility due to their weight.
By losing weight you can balance your sex hormone levels and improve your chances of conceiving.
As you've learned in several of the points above certain health conditions, like sleep apnoea, asthma, mental illness and body pains can zonk your energy levels and make life harder in general. By losing weight and increasing your activity levels you can wake up fresher and more ready to meet the day ahead.
Please note: Do not reduce or stop taking medications without first seeking the advice of your doctor.
Are you trying to lose weight? Read our comprehensive guide on weight loss to understand where to begin, what happens when you lose weight, and what doesn't work when it comes to dieting.