Excess Pounds and Health

Everyone attending the Coffee Club this morning is excited about the beautiful weather. Maybe winter is behind us for now. But as you have learned by now Uncle Bud will not let us waste much time discussing anything other than the topic he has picked for today.


That topic is “Excess Pounds and Health. He begins with a question: “Do you understand the increased risks you have to harm your health if you are hanging on to those excess pounds?” Some of us want to tell him we do but we are going to get a refresher course no matter what we say. In Uncle Bud’s defense we do have new members and some old members who have not listened yet.


He tells us that if we are carrying many extra pounds, we face a higher than average risk of 50 different health problems. A few of these include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers. Lesser common ailments that may be a side effect of being overweight are gout, gallstones, and depression.


Sam wants to know where Uncle Bud had gotten his information. Always ready he tells us  a Harvard study that combined data from more than 50,000 men (participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up study) and more than 120,000 women (from the Nurses’ Health Study) revealed what he is about to share with us:


The volunteers provided their height and weight, as well as details on their diets, health habits, and medical histories. Researchers tracked the volunteers over more than 10 years. They noted the occurrence of illnesses and compared those developments with each subject’s body mass index (BMI)—an estimate of an individual’s relative body fat calculated from his or her height and weight).


Obesity increased the risk of diabetes 20 times and substantially boosted the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and gallstones. Among people who were overweight or obese, there was a direct relationship between BMI and risk: the higher the BMI, the higher the likelihood of disease.


Most of us were aware of some of the risk to our health extra pounds can cause but no one seemed to know the connection between extra weight and depression. Sally beat several other to the punch when she ask, “Do people gain weight because they are depressed or do they become depressed because they are overweight?”


Uncle Bud states a review of 15 studies found evidence that both scenarios can be the case. A study,  published in 2010 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that obese people have a 55% higher risk of developing depression over time compared with people of normal weight. He gives us a “handout” explaining some of the things the study noted:

  • Both conditions appear to stem (at least in part) from alterations in brain chemistry and function in response to stress.
  • Psychological factors are also plausible. In our culture, thin equals beautiful, and being overweight can lower self-esteem, a known trigger for depression.
  • Odd eating patterns and eating disorders, as well as the physical discomfort of being obese, are known to foster depression.

The study also found that depressed people have a 58% higher risk of becoming obese. Here are some reasons why depression may lead to obesity:


  • Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol (common in people with depression) may alter substances in fat cells that make fat accumulation, especially in the belly, more likely, according to one theory.
  • People who feel depressed often feel too blue to eat properly and exercise regularly, making them more prone to gain weight.
  • Some medications used to treat depression cause weight gain.


Perry points out the time and we realize this discussion has to be continued next week. But we have time to encourage those members that are still overweight that several of us have had great results by going to WeightoWellness. You can also get encouragement, coaching, and information by contacting them. Phone 205- 994- 2393. You can visit them on the web at www.weightowellnessllc.com. Don’t put it off any longer. Your health depends on you.


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