Never judge some­one over changes in weight

Bristol Post - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE -

WEIGHT is a hugely per­sonal is­sue, but is still widely dis­cussed, more so if the per­son is a celebrity – as they’re in the pub­lic eye, peo­ple of­ten as­sume they’re ‘fair game’ to talk about.

Dav­ina McCall has re­cently opened up about this in an in­ter­view with Women’s Health mag­a­zine, talk­ing about weight loss af­ter di­vorce.

“It hap­pens to many peo­ple. It was noth­ing I did, I was just run­ning on adren­a­line,” she says. “Quite a few peo­ple un­der­stood, but there are some re­ally mean peo­ple out there and some very un­in­formed peo­ple who don’t think about the story be­hind the sad­ness.”

There are plenty of hid­den rea­sons why some­one might suf­fer weight fluc­tu­a­tions – Dr Deb­o­rah Lee, from Dr Fox On­line, out­lines three. STRESS: “Chronic stress has nu­mer­ous neg­a­tive ef­fects on health,” ex­plains Dr Lee, as it can cause “al­ter­ations in the lev­els of hor­mones”. Other po­ten­tial phys­i­o­log­i­cal side ef­fects in­clude “raised blood pres­sure and ir­reg­u­lar men­strual cy­cles. Some of these di­rectly af­fect weight,” she says.

“Stress has been shown to af­fect ap­petite. Au­to­nomic func­tion – the body’s un­con­scious func­tions – is stim­u­lated by stress, which can af­fect

gas­tric emp­ty­ing, tran­sit time and ab­sorp­tion of food through the gut.

“Stress stim­u­lates the im­mune sys­tem, and as the gut wall is full of clumps of im­mune tis­sue, this can cause in­flam­ma­tion. Stress can also af­fect wa­ter ab­sorp­tion from the bowel. Many peo­ple with ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS), find their symp­toms flare up with acute stress. This can then af­fect eat­ing pat­terns and gen­eral well­be­ing, and can re­sult in ei­ther weight loss or weight gain.” CAN­CER: “Un­ex­plained weight loss is a recog­nised symp­tom of many types of can­cer,” says Dr Lee.

The med­i­cal term is cachexia, and Dr Lee ex­plains: “Pa­tients with cachexia report want­ing to eat and know­ing they should eat, but be­ing phys­i­cally un­able. Some say they feel full quickly, or that swal­low­ing food makes them feel sick.”

Un­for­tu­nately, cachexia is of­ten a “bio­chem­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal out­come of the can­cer process,” says Dr Lee. “It is not some­thing the suf­ferer has any con­trol over, and is ex­ceed­ingly dif­fi­cult to treat.”

The NHS rec­om­mends see­ing your GP if you have un­in­ten­tion­ally lost 5% of your body weight in 6-12 months.

Dr Lee says: “Peo­ple ei­ther don’t re­alise their symp­toms are se­ri­ous or don’t want to waste the doc­tor’s time. Rais­ing aware­ness of the im­por­tance of early symp­toms that may in­di­cate can­cer, for ex­am­ple, un­ex­plained weight loss, is im­por­tant.”

EAT­ING DISOR­DERS: “Far from help­ing peo­ple lose weight, stig­ma­tis­ing weight gain only in­creases un­healthy eat­ing pat­terns and weight gain,” says Dr Lee. “As stigma in­creases, obese adults report more binge eat­ing, more dis­rupted eat­ing be­hav­iours, and can de­velop more eat­ing disor­ders.”

She says we need to “re­gard obe­sity in a more em­pa­thetic and pos­i­tive light,” par­tic­u­larly as there are so many ge­netic ab­nor­mal­i­ties that can con­trib­ute to weight gain and obe­sity.

Many con­di­tions cause weight changes. For Dav­ina McCall, inset, it was stress

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