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Name of Symptom/Sign:
Weight Loss
ICD-10 R634 Abnormal weight loss
R64 Cachexia
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ICD-9 783.21
MedlinePlus {{{MedlinePlus}}}
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DiseasesDB {{{DiseasesDB}}}

Weight loss, in the context of medicine or health, is a reduction of the total body weight, which can mean loss of fluid, muscle or bone mass, or fat.

Unintentional weight loss

The loss of weight associated with a chronic illness is referred to as cachexia. Unexpected, unintentional weight loss is a common symptom of illness and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Poor management of Type 1 diabetes mellitus (IDDM) can be a cause of significant weight loss. Lack of insulin triggers the release of fatty acids into blood from adipose tissue, as well as the release of protein from muscle tissue. This causes a reduction in both lean tissue and fatty tissue mass. Also of interest is to consider the weight loss as a product of the energy imbalance, because much biochemical energy is lost in the urine due to the excretion of glucose (glycosuria) and ketone bodies.

Medications, lack of fluid intake, or illnesses such as diabetes can trigger fluid loss.

Infections such as HIV[1] may alter metabolism, leading to weight loss.

Hormonal disruptions, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) [2], may also exhibit as weight loss.

Intentional weight loss

Weight loss may refer to the loss of total body mass in an effort to improve fitness, health, and/or appearance.

Therapeutic weight loss, in individuals who are overweight, can decrease the likelihood of developing diseases such as diabetes [3]. Overweight and obese individuals are also at greater risk of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoarthritis [4]. For healthy weight loss, a physician should be consulted to develop a weight loss plan that is tailored to the individual.

Weight loss occurs when an individual is in a state of negative energy balance. When the human body is losing more chemical energy in work and heat than it is gaining from food or other nutritional supplements, it will catabolise stored reserves (or fat) inside the body.

It is not uncommon for people who are already at a medically healthy weight to intentionally lose weight. In some cases it is with the goal of improving athletic performance or to meet weight classifications in a sport. In other cases, the goal is to attain a more attractively shaped body. Being underweight is associated with health risks. Health problems can include fighting off infection, osteoporosis, decreased muscle strength, trouble regulating body temperature and even increased risk of death.[5]

Therapeutic weight loss techniques

The least intrusive weight loss methods, and those most often recommended by physicians, are adjustments to eating patterns and increased physical exercise.

Usually, health professionals will recommend that their overweight patients combine a reduction of the caloric content of the diet, with an increase in physical activity.[6]

Raw vegetables are low in calories, high in nutrient density. Eating high quantities in blended or liquid form is a way to consume fewer calories and enjoy a feeling of satiation as body cells receive the nutrients they need. Other methods of losing weight include use of drugs that decrease appetite, as well as surgery. Liposuction is the surgical removal of fat from targeted areas beneath the skin. Bariatric surgery artificially reduces the size of the stomach, reducing the intake of food energy. Some of these treatments may have serious side-effects.

See also, dieting.

Weight loss industry

There is a huge market for products which promise to make weight loss easier, quicker,cheaper,reliable, or less painful. These include books, CDs, and other materials, fitness centers, personal coaches, weight loss groups, and food products and supplements. Americans spend an estimated $30 billion a year on all types of diet programs and products, including diet foods and drinks.[7]


See also

External links

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