Losing weight isn’t just about the number on the scales – it’s about taking care of your mind and body. Sure, it’s great to eat well and work out regularly. But when it comes to your weight, other factors are at play, such as your genes, hormones, and lifestyle habits.

Adopting a holistic approach to weight loss means looking at the bigger picture and making sustainable changes that will benefit your overall well-being. It’s not about chasing some unattainable ideal; it’s about feeling confident and healthy in your skin. So let’s ditch the diet culture and fat shaming. It’s time to focus on being kind to ourselves.

Making sustainable changes and embracing a healthier lifestyle will do wonders for your body and mental health. Here are eight reasons to focus on weight loss as a holistic approach to feeling healthier and happier, mentally and physically.


Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes

In Australia, more than half (53%) of diabetes cases are attributable to excess weight (1).

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are strongly linked, with obesity being a significant risk factor for developing diabetes (2). For example, if a woman has a BMI exceeding 30 kg/m2, she is at a 28 times higher risk of developing diabetes than a woman with a healthy BMI (2).

Losing weight can significantly decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Excess weight, especially around the abdominal area, is a major risk factor for developing this disease. When you start to lose weight, you reduce the fat in your body and lower your cells’ resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

And that’s not all – losing weight can also help reduce other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inflammation. So if you’re at risk of developing diabetes, or you’ve already been diagnosed, weight loss can help to reduce your risk or better manage symptoms.


Better sleep quality

58% of moderate-to-severe sleep apnea cases can be attributed to obesity (3).

Obesity is a major factor that contributes to both snoring and sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder characterised by repeated episodes of breathing cessation during sleep. This is primarily due to the excess fat and reduced muscle activity in the upper respiratory tract, which narrows the airway (4). As a result, snoring becomes more frequent, as a narrower throat is more susceptible to vibration (5).

Weight loss is one of the most effective non-surgical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). According to research, weight loss significantly reduces the severity of OSA and the frequency of apnea events by reducing excess weight and fat around the neck area, making it easier for air to pass through (6).


Lowered risk of heart disease

Obesity contributed to 25% of the disease burden associated with coronary heart disease in Australia in 2015 (7).

Carrying excess weight can lead to a buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease. However, weight loss can lead to lower blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity. All of these factors are key contributors to heart disease, and by taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle, you’re actively working to protect your heart health from the risk of heart disease.

Improved blood pressure

Obesity may account for 65% of hypertension cases in women (8).

Excess weight can be a real danger to your health, especially when it comes to blood pressure. When you gain extra weight, your body produces more of a hormone called leptin, which can increase your blood pressure. This can put additional stress on your heart and make it harder for blood to flow through your vessels.

Achieving a healthy weight through weight loss can positively impact your blood pressure. By reducing the strain on your heart to pump blood throughout your body, you’re working towards lowering your blood pressure. Plus, weight loss can also help decrease inflammation, a known contributor to high blood pressure.

Just make sure you go about losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way rather than following the latest crash diets or quick fixes you’ve spotted on social media. Talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional to come up with a plan that works for you, including regular exercise and a balanced diet.


Improved fertility

Studies indicate that women with a higher BMI are three times more likely to experience fertility issues (9).

While infertility has various causes, there is a well-established link between obesity and female fertility. The hormonal imbalances caused by obesity can disrupt ovulation and menstruation, making it harder to conceive. Furthermore, obesity can increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including complications during pregnancy, miscarriage, and congenital disabilities. Often, babies born to obese mothers are at increased risk of admission to neonatal intensive care (10). Maintaining a healthy weight through weight loss can mitigate these risks and increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Excess body weight can disrupt hormone levels, leading to reduced fertility. On the other hand, losing weight can help restore normal hormone levels, reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. According to research, even a slight reduction in body weight can improve pregnancy outcomes (11). Hence, fertility specialists often recommend weight loss if weight is suspected to be a contributing factor to infertility.


Better mental health

Research suggests that between 20% to 60% of individuals with obesity also suffer from psychiatric illnesses (12).

Obesity, depression, and anxiety often go hand in hand. Research has found that individuals with obesity are more likely to experience depression, and those who are depressed are more likely to become obese (13). Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break.

One of the key ways weight loss can improve mental health is through improved brain function. Weight loss has been found to increase blood flow to the brain and enhance the function of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine – hormones responsible for regulating mood, sleep, and appetite.


Improved self-esteem and confidence

Sadly, people with obesity often encounter discrimination in various aspects of life, such as education, personal relationships, and healthcare (14). This stigma can significantly impact their self-worth and confidence, leading to feelings of loneliness, lower self-esteem, and an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety (15,16).

Losing weight can be a great way to boost self-esteem, as it can lead to improved body image and physical health. This can result in increased confidence and a greater sense of self-worth. Often, people who lose weight feel more positive about their appearance and receive compliments from others, further enhancing their self-esteem.

Weight loss can bring about a range of physical health benefits, including a lowered risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, increased mobility and energy levels, and better quality of sleep. These improvements in physical health can also translate to positive effects on mental well-being, empowering individuals to feel more in control of their lives and confident in their abilities.

Self-esteem is complex and influenced by many factors beyond just body weight. It is essential to focus on developing a positive self-image and self-worth through various means, such as building supportive relationships, engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfilment, and developing skills and talents.


Increased energy levels

Weight loss can help increase energy levels in several ways. Firstly, losing excess weight can reduce the body’s workload, making it easier for the body to perform everyday tasks and activities. This can lead to a decrease in feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.

Secondly, carrying extra weight places extra strain on the cardiovascular system, forcing the heart to work harder to distribute blood and oxygen throughout the body. This, in turn, can lead to fatigue and reduced energy levels. By losing weight, the pressure on the cardiovascular system can be reduced, improving circulation and oxygen supply and ultimately increasing energy levels.

Finally, losing weight can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, which can help prevent dips in blood sugar levels that can lead to feelings of fatigue and low energy. Eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity as part of a weight loss program can help regulate blood sugar levels and provide a steady source of energy throughout the day.

Overall, weight loss can have many positive effects on physical and mental health, including increased energy levels, improved mood, and better overall quality of life.



  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of Disease Study. Available at https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/impact-of-overweight-and-obesity-as-a-risk-factor-for-chronic-conditions/contents/table-of-contents
  2. Barnes AS. The epidemic of obesity and diabetes: trends and treatments. Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(2):142-144. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3066828/
  3. Young T, Peppard PE, Taheri S. Excess weight and sleep-disordered breathing. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005;99(4):1592-1599. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00587.2005 https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00587.2005
  4. Jehan S, Zizi F, Pandi-Perumal SR, et al. Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Obesity: Implications for Public Health. Sleep Med Disord. 2017;1(4):00019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836788/
  5. Sleep Health Foundation Snoring Fact Sheet,22 July 2016. Available at https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/snoring.html Accessed December 2021.
  6. Young T, Peppard PE, Taheri S. Excess weight and sleep-disordered breathing. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005;99(4):1592-1599. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00587.2005 https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00587.2005
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015: Interactive data on risk factor burden., AIHW, Australian Government https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/interactive-data-risk-factor-burden
  8. Aronow WS. Association of obesity with hypertension. Ann Transl Med. 2017;5(17):350. doi:10.21037/atm.2017.06.69 https://atm.amegroups.com/article/view/15832/html
  9. Grodstein F, Goldman MB, Cramer DW. Body mass index and ovulatory infertility. Epidemiology. 1994;5(2):247-250. doi:10.1097/00001648-199403000-00016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8173001/
  10. Callaway LK, Prins JB, Chang AM, McIntyre HD. The prevalence and impact of overweight and obesity in an Australian obstetric population. Med J Aust. 2006;184(2):56-59. doi:10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00115.x https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00115.x
  11. 10 – Clark AM, Thornley B, Tomlinson L, Galletley C, Norman RJ. Weight loss in obese infertile women results in improvement in reproductive outcome for all forms of fertility treatment. Hum Reprod. 1998;13(6):1502-1505. doi:10.1093/humrep/13.6.1502 https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/13/6/1502/815807
  12. Sarwer DB, Polonsky HM. The Psychosocial Burden of Obesity. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2016;45(3):677-688. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2016.04.016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6052856/
  13. National Health and Medical Research Council (2013). Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Available at https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/clinical-practice-guidelines-management-overweight-and-obesity
  14. Puhl RM, Heuer CA. Obesity stigma: important considerations for public health. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(6):1019-1028. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.159491 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866597/
  15. Jung FU, Luck-Sikorski C. Overweight and Lonely? A Representative Study on Loneliness in Obese People and Its Determinants. Obes Facts. 2019;12(4):440-447. doi:10.1159/000500095 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31315116/
  16. Friedman KE, Reichmann SK, Costanzo PR, Zelli A, Ashmore JA, Musante GJ. Weight stigmatization and ideological beliefs: relation to psychological functioning in obese adults. Obes Res. 2005;13(5):907-916. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.105 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15919845