Body weight has a great influence on our quality of life. While physical health deteriorates when weight is gained, mental well-being seems to improve, especially in women. This has been reported by scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München in the International Journal of Public Health. These results offer valuable information for preventive strategies in the fight against obesity.

Scientists from the Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management (IGM) and from the Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) discovered that weight gain leads to deterioration in physical health. Female study participants, however, experienced improved mental quality of life as their weight increased, a result that was observed even in women who were already overweight when the study began. For this study, Professor Dr. Rolf Holle, Michael Laxy and their team evaluated data from the population-based longitudinal KORA study on the association between body weight and health-related quality of life. Over a period of seven years, the weight of more than 3,000 people was measured, the body-mass index (BMI) was calculated and the health-related quality of life was assessed on the basis of a standardized questionnaire.

"The results show that the influence of body weight on physical and mental health is complex," explains Holle. "However, the understanding of these associations is crucial for developing medically effective and cost-effective strategies to prevent and manage obesity. The challenge is to prevent weight gain and its harmful health consequences, such as diabetes, while simultaneously structuring the programs in such a way that they counteract impairments in mental well-being. In this context, also gender-specific approaches should be considered," concludes Holle, the head of the Economic Evaluation workgroup at IGM.

Around sixty percent of the adult population in Germany is affected by overweight and obesity. The objective of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to develop new approaches to diagnose, treat and prevent major widespread diseases.

Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health