This study is the first ever to examine organizations between weight loss and change in both mental wellbeing and cardio-metabolic risk in obese and obese old adults from a nationally-representative, population-based cohort. Around 15% of these overweight and obese adults lost ≥5% of their bodyweight and a similar percentage gained ≥5%. However, there is no evidence that weight loss was associated with improved emotional wellbeing.
In fact, a lot more of the weight reduction group than the groupings who were weight steady or gained weight had depressed feeling at follow-up, with least in a few of the adjusted analyses, more had low wellbeing. However, both of these studies included participants over the full weight spectrum. We had expected that by restricting our an example to participants who have been obese or overweight at baseline, proof adverse psychological ramifications of weight loss would disappear.
However, today’s results suggest that even among overweight and obese older adults, a combined group for whom weight loss is preferred, there is absolutely no evidence for positive effects of weight reduction on feeling. One possible explanation for the difference would be that the mood improvements in clinical trials are a consequence of the supportive treatment context rather than weight reduction per se. Are possible mechanisms for undesirable mental effects of weight loss there? These observations suggest that weight loss is a substantial, psychobiological challenge, and as such, could affect psychological wellbeing. Because our email address details are correlational, it is equally possible that the second description is right, and weight reduction was driven by a decline in feeling.
From today’s analyses, it isn’t possible to attract firm conclusions on the direction of causation. Longitudinal data will offer understanding on causality, as they allow examination of the temporality of a link (i.e. whether A precedes B, or B-A) precedes. However, because our analysis was of change in weight loss and change in mood on the same times (with variables derived from data at both time points), email address details are only correlational and causal interpretations are limited. To look for the direction of causation, at least three time factors are needed, making it possible to analyze whether weight loss precedes the onset of depressed mood, or vice versa.
The third possibility would be that the association between weight loss and drop in mood had not been causal, but was credited to them sharing a common (different) cause. We investigated some potential common causes in conditions of life and health stress. We adjusted for changes in health status and major life events occurring between baseline and follow-up. Our study had a number of important limitations. The info on the intention to lose excess weight had been collected six years prior to the wave used as the baseline in these analyses, as part of the 1998 HSE that one-third of the ELSA test were recruited from.
As such, it is likely that some individuals who had been intending to lose weight in the past had abandoned trying and others who was not intending to lose had started doing so. The usage of an arbitrary, validated threshold to indicate low degrees of wellbeing is also problematic, and we observed some variations in results when wellbeing data were analyzed continually, so these results should be interpreted with caution. Like all cohort studies, there could be confounding by unmeasured or measured factors imprecisely. A potential confounder in today’s analyses is the presence of underlying disease causing both weight loss and depressed mood.
It was also possible that associations between weight loss and depressed feeling were due to major life occasions which triggered both depressed mood and weight reduction. Getting divorced, being widowed, or experiencing the loss of someone you care about are major occasions. However, hardly any individuals in the sample experienced a meeting of the type over the period under investigation and adjusting because of their influence got little effect on the results, although data on bereavement were limited by spouses and parents.
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It could have been beneficial to have been able to widen the analyses to regulate for loss of life of children or close friends, but this given information was not available. Adjusting for these major life events was problematic for the reason that they cannot have been experienced by participants who were not married at baseline or whose parents died before baseline. The ELSA sample comprises predominantly white, older adults, and the effects of weight reduction might vary among young adults or different cultural groups. As a consequence of this healthy participant bias, results might not be population-representative and caution should be taken in extrapolating to other populations.
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