Emotional Resilience Blog from The Fear Course

The latest research, realisations and thinking in the world of emotional resilience, anxiety and fear reduction from around the world.

Can losing weight reduce anxiety?

Can losing weight reduce anxiety?

I have written a number of times about the effect of diet on anxiety levels (here) for example. However if you are overweight will reducing weight also reduce anxiety levels?

A study just published this week looked at this very question.

It has been found that patients with metabolic syndrome, which is combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, (and these conditions often go together), also often report higher levels of anxiety as well. The question is are the increased levels of anxiety linked to the metabolic syndrome or in particular, obesity?

There are a set of neurotransmitters or chemicals in the brain, called monoamines which it is believed are connected to anxiety levels. We think monoamines are vital components of our emotional and thinking systems. It has been found that problems with the effectiveness of monoamines in the brain occur in issues like depression and anxiety. Some drugs used to treat these problems increase the effectiveness of the monoamines.

This study examined the levels of anxiety, weight and monoamines levels in a group of patents aged between 40 and 60 who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

They were tested for weight, anxiety levels and monoamine levels before and after being placed on a 6 month weight reduction diet.

The results were marked to say the least. They found that of the patents placed on the diet and who lost weight, increased their levels of monoamines, and decreased their anxiety levels by almost a third over the same time. In fact the study found that the level of weight loss for these patents paralleled the decrease in anxiety levels suffered by the individuals in the study. So the answer appears to be that weight and anxiety are linked, at least with people suffering from metabolic syndrome.


Perez-Cornago, A. et al (2014) Effect of dietary restriction on peripheral monoamines and anxiety symptoms in obese subjects with metabolic syndrome. Psychoneuroendocrinology May 2014.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.05.003

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