Losing weight has become a major concern for people across all walks of life, and this preoccupation spans the gap between gender, ethnicity, and age. This fact is evident in television commercials advertising special diets, mass marketing emails which tout the benefits of magic weight loss pills, and before and after weight loss pictures found throughout social media platforms. This begs the question: why? The three primary reasons that weight loss has gained such priority for so many people seem to be health, physical appearance, and the desire to live longer.
In recent decades, progress in medical understanding has led to the concept that weight loss often shares a direct correlation with improved health. This concept has largely been accepted as fact. With the rise of a global information age, information regarding the relationship between weight and health is very accessible to the masses. It is widely understood that health issues such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers are more likely to occur when an individual is overweight or obese. Additionally, there is reliable medical evidence that some of the above health issues can be minimized or even reversed with successful weight loss. For example, with healthy weight loss gained through diet and exercise, high blood pressure can be brought under control. Through successful weight loss, Type 2 diabetes can be reversed. The proven benefits of losing weight in a healthy manner are well documented.
Often, when an individual decides to lose weight, it is because that person has come to understand that weight loss may help him or her to become healthier. Even more often, this is the result of sound advice from a medical professional who has made clear that gradual weight loss is necessary to achieve a healthier state of being, or that specific medical issues will be more manageable with weight loss. The decision to try to lose weight is often also supported by the entreaties of loved ones who are concerned about the health of the individual.
A Second Contributing Factor
The second major contributing factor to why people want to lose weight is physical appearance. It can even be argued that health concerns and physical appearance are tied as the primary drive for weight loss. Physical appearance as a motivator really comes down to self-esteem and confidence. These may seem like the same thing, but the two are actually different sides of the same coin. Self-esteem has to do with how a person perceives himself or herself, while confidence is more about how that person perceives his or her relationship with the outside world.
We live in a society where thin and fit is often considered more attractive than slightly overweight or obese. This perception is pervasive in entertainment and advertising – even in news media. It contributes to a lower self-esteem in individuals who do not personify the ideal. People who are motivated by physical appearance often seem to experience a more positive perception of self as they start to successfully lose weight. It is also worth noting that individuals who see a rise in self-esteem as they lose weight also seem to be happier overall.
The Belief of Being Treated Better
Additionally, people who want to lost weight often believe that they will be perceived and treated more favorably by others once they have shed a few pounds. As they progress towards their weight loss goals, these individuals often seem to gain more confidence and a greater sense of security regarding their how they are viewed by others. This is largely because our society perpetuates a negative stigma regarding people who are overweight or obese. Simply, people who fall into the thin and fit ideal seem to be treated better by others than people who don’t.
The third major reason which seems to drive people to want to lose weight is the desire to live a longer and happier life. The desire to achieve a longer life-span is closely tied to the motivating factor of physical health. However, it is a separate drive because being healthier is often considered in the short-term, while living longer is a big-picture consideration. For example, an individual in his twenties may want to lose weight to be healthier, but he is less likely to consider losing weight specifically to live longer compared to an individual in her fifties who wants to see her grandchildren grow up.
Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight can optimize one’s lifespan. An individual who is moderately obese may live three years less than if he or she losses the excess weight, while a person who is severely obese may live up to ten years less. That’s about the same rate of shortened lifespan as someone who smokes cigarettes for an extended period of time. While there is little in the way of conclusive evidence that losing weight will guarantee a longer life, it is generally accepted that it will improve one’s ability to live a healthier life. We can only assume that an individual who achieves a healthier lifestyle is likely to live longer.
Ultimately, there are countless reasons why a given person may want to lose weight. The three detailed in this article are the most common. The important thing to consider, if you are thinking about trying to lose weight, is that there is a right and wrong way to go about it. Methods such as improved diet and exercise are a healthy approach to weight loss. However, you may want to hesitate if you are considering an approach which involves pills, unbalanced diet choices, or get-thin-quick schemes. Either way, intentionally losing weight is only recommended to individuals who are actually overweight or obese.
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