Can Iron Deficiency Lead To Obesity?

Below we share how exactly iron deficiency might cause obesity and also share tips to avoid it.

Can Iron Deficiency Lead To Obesity?

Iron deficiency can disrupt appetite-regulating hormones, leading to increased hunger and overeating

Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn't have enough iron to function properly. Iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including the production of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without enough iron, the body cannot produce sufficient haemoglobin, leading to a condition called iron-deficiency anaemia.

As for its relationship with obesity, while iron deficiency itself does not directly cause obesity, it can contribute to weight gain or difficulty in losing weight through various mechanisms, as outlined in the previous response. Keep reading as we share how exactly this might occur and also share tips to avoid it.

Here's how an iron deficiency can lead to obesity:

1. Decreased energy levels

Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue and low energy levels, which may result in decreased physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to weight gain.

2. Altered metabolism

Iron is essential for proper metabolism, including the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Iron deficiency can disrupt metabolic processes, leading to inefficient energy utilisation and storage.

3. Reduced oxygen transport

Iron is a key component of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues and organs. Iron deficiency impairs oxygen transport, reducing energy production and potentially slowing down metabolism.

4. Increased appetite

Iron deficiency can disrupt appetite-regulating hormones, leading to increased hunger and overeating, which can contribute to weight gain.

5. Impaired exercise performance

Iron deficiency can lead to decreased exercise tolerance and performance due to reduced oxygen delivery to muscles. This can result in lower calorie expenditure during physical activity.

6. Changes in thermogenesis

Iron deficiency may alter thermogenesis, the process by which the body generates heat and burns calories. This can lead to a decrease in calorie expenditure and contribute to weight gain.

7. Insulin resistance

Iron deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance, a condition in which cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar levels and increased fat storage.

8. Increased inflammation

Iron deficiency can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation, which has been associated with obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

9. Changes in gut microbiota

Iron deficiency may alter the composition of the gut microbiota, which can affect nutrient absorption, energy metabolism, and inflammation, potentially contributing to weight gain.

10. Psychological factors

Iron deficiency can lead to symptoms such as irritability, depression, and cognitive impairment, which may affect motivation and self-regulation of eating behaviour, potentially leading to weight gain.

Ensure adequate iron intake through diet and supplementation if necessary. Consume a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support overall health and metabolism. Also engage in regular physical activity to maintain energy levels, support metabolism, and manage weight. Consume fibre-rich foods, probiotics, and prebiotics to promote a healthy gut microbiota.

Seek support from a healthcare provider or mental health professional if psychological symptoms are affecting eating behaviour and weight management.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.