Losing weight requires commitment and a goal, and today’s dieters have shifted intentions to focus more on improving their health than their physical appearance.

A recent Mayo Clinic survey of more than 200,000 Americans showed that health was the key motivation for 83 percent of participants, five times more than physical appearance. More than half reported dieting at least six times during their lifetime.

Devika Umashanker, MD, medical director of medical weight loss with Hartford HealthCare, said she is seeing a similar trend in her patients.

“Based on the average age of the patients of the Mayo sample size, which was 52, I would concur that health is the primary motivating reason people see us. The second would be physical appearance,” she explained.

The Mayo researchers attributed some of the shift to a heightened desire to achieve overall health and wellness after COVID-19.

“I believe the shift is likely due to patients being at borderline or diagnosed with weight-related comorbidities at this age, which makes them want to get healthier,” Dr. Umashanker said.

Being overweight or obese can have a serious and negative impact on your overall health. Carrying extra fat can cause:

  • Cardiovascular disease like heart disease and stroke.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis.
  • Up to 11 forms of cancer, including breast and colon.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Stones in the kidney and gall bladder.
  • Infertility.
  • Asthma.
  • Fatty liver disease.
  • Depression and anxiety.