Is there a link between obesity and hair loss? Let’s find out

Being overweight or even obese have a plethora of side effects on overall health. The World Heart Federation (WHF) reports that over 2.3 billion children and adults worldwide are believed to be overweight or obese. As a result, it is correct to call obesity an epidemic that can lead to dire consequences, if left untreated. Did you know that obesity and hair loss also have a strong link?

Health Shots got in touch with Dr Monica Chahar, Chief Dermatologist and Director, Skin Decor, Dwarka, Delhi, who shares that women who are obese and overweight are more likely to experience hair health issues such as hair loss. Read on to understand the link between obesity and hair loss.

Can obesity lead to hair loss?

It is generally known that obesity is linked to increased risk of several diseases. Obese people are prone to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. However, it’s unclear exactly how chronic obesity causes body organs to deteriorate and lose functionality.

Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) recently investigated the effects of genetically induced obesity and a high-fat diet on hair thinning and loss using mice model trials. According to the findings of the study, obesity can cause the loss of hair follicles by inducing particular inflammatory signals that deplete hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs), blocking hair follicle regeneration and ultimately resulting in the loss of hair follicles.

obesity and hair loss
Lose weight to manage hair loss. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

An expert’s take on the link between obesity and hair loss

Being obese can fiddle with your hair health and lead to problems. Dr Chahar says, “Excess belly fat can lead to hormonal imbalances, specifically an increase in the production of androgens, such as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Elevated DHT levels can shrink hair follicles, leading to thinning hair and eventual hair loss.”

She further explains that obese or overweight women develop insulin resistance, which can result in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, one of the most common reproductive issues among young women. Additionally, PCOS may be a factor in hair loss because the condition is linked to higher than usual testosterone levels, which have an impact on hair growth.

How to control hair loss?

Here are 5 most important tips to keep in mind to control hair loss:

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1. Maintain a balanced diet: A healthy diet plays a crucial role in hair health. Opt for nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Incorporate foods rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as biotin, protein, zinc, and iron, which support hair growth and follicle health.

obesity and hair loss
Increase your vegetable intake to have healthy hair! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Manage stress: Chronic stress can exacerbate hair loss. Make sure to include stress-relieving techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing in your daily schedule.

3. Lose weight: If your hair loss problem is because you are overweight or obese, you have to lose weight to manage it. Engaging in regular physical activity not only aids in weight management but also improves blood circulation, which is vital for delivering nutrients to the hair follicles. Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes and you will see the difference.

4. Avoid harsh hair care practices: Excessive heat styling, tight hairstyles, and harsh chemical treatments can damage the hair shaft and contribute to hair loss. So avoid making these mistakes.

heat styling side effects
Avoid these common hair care mistakes. Image courtesy; Shutterstock

5. Head massage: One of the best strategies to stop hair loss is to give yourself a regular head massage because it has been shown to boost blood circulation. Along with promoting hair growth, it maintains the health of your hair and helps you cope with stress, which is a significant factor in hair loss.

Seek professional help if nothing works!

If hair loss persists or worsens, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist. They can evaluate your specific situation, identify underlying causes, and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions, such as medications, topical solutions, or therapies like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, says Dr Chahar.

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