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What are the Causes of Overweight and Obesity?

November 10th, 2008

It is a common knowledge that such factors as overeating and lack of physical activity are the main causes of overweight and obesity. Such aspects as our eating habits and environment play less important, but still large roles in our body weight dynamics. Finally, it is possible to name such minor causes as genetic predisposition, metabolism specifics, some illnesses, aging, emotional, socioeconomic and cultural factors, etc. There is a great deal of reasons which can lead to weight problems, that is why weight management is considered to be a very complex health problem.

  • OvereatingOvereating and Negative Energy Balance. The studies showed that obese people usually eat 1.5 – 2 times more proteins, carbs and fats than it is necessary for normal function of their body. Moreover, obese people always tend to eat sweet, fatty and very caloric foods. Certainly, in order to satisfy their large body’s needs, obese people consume more foods and drinks, that results in overeating and inability to burn the calories they received. In other words, the amounts of calories (energy) they receive with food and drinks are much higher than the amounts of the calories they spend for body functions and physical activities. That is how energy disbalance occurs, and permanent prevalence of calorie intake over calorie spendings leads to weight gain and obesity.
  • Physical Inactivity. Modern people have an extreme lack of physical activities, because we spend the majority of our time watching TV or sitting in front our computers. Also, we use our cars instead of walking, and our usual daily chores hardly require some serious physical activities. At that, our sedentary life-style plays a major role in weight management, because we do not spent all the energy we receive from foods and store it in the form of fat. Average norms of our physiological needs make us spend about 600 Kcal a day, but we hardly spend 200-300 Kcal. The specialists argue that those people, who spend 2 hours a day watching TV have a strong tendency to become obese. In addition to that, obese people usually try to limit their physical activities, that leads to gaining extra weight and more limits to physical activities. This way they fall into a vicious circle: inactivity leads to increased weight gain, and weight gain leads to increased inactivity. That is why it usually takes a lot of efforts to break this circle.
  • Junk FoodBad Eating Habits. What we eat and how we eat affects our weight a lot. Many people have no time for having normal meals at work, so they try to compensate this with overeating in the evening. Having snacks and eating on feet does not bring to anything good as well. Modern fast food industry is a known killer of our health, not only because of the abundance of harmful fats and acids in those hamburgers and French fries, but also because of oversized portions and fast eating. Also, there is a great deal of spicy, fatty, oversalted and overcooked foods in our daily diet. Consuming a lot of coffee, energy or alcoholic drinks also leads to weight gains.
  • Environmental Factors. They include excessive amounts of fast food, alcoholic and energy drinks advertisements, poor quality products in our super-markets and lack of access to healthy foods, our working schedules, lack of sidewalks, playgrounds, recreation facilities in modern cosmopolitan cities, and so on. Undoubtedly, this everything leads to promoting laziness and poor weight management.
  • Genetic Predisposition. In many cases, overweight and obesity run in families, and the specialists say that over 50% of obese people are under effect of genetic predisposition to being overweight. Genes can affect the amounts of fat your body stores. However, it was proven that the genetic factor can get activated only when it is accompanied with other factors, such as bad eating habits and physical inactivity.
  • Illnesses. Some health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, hormone problems, problems with hypothalamus, binge-eating and other eating disorders can cause weight gaining. In such situation, it is crucial to treat the health condition first, and then start combating the problem of overweight.
  • Medications. Taking some antidepressants, cortocosteroids or other medicines, which affect the routine processes of calorie burning in your body, may lead to weight gain.
  • Emotional FactorEmotional Factors. Emotional factors are sometimes underestimated as the important causes of weight gain. When we are stressed out, worried, angry or depressed, we frequently tend to compensate our nervous tension with eating nuts, pop-corns, sunflower seeds and other quite caloric foods. Therefore, we consume more calories than we usually do, and if they are not spend in exrta physical activities, we start storing extra calories and gaining weight.
  • Other Sociocultural Factors. It is possible to name some other factors which impact our weight. Aging leads to less physical activity, causing weight gaining. Pregnancy is another cause of weight changes in women. Finally, the people who have constant lack of sleep, or are trying to quit smoking are also reported to have a tendency to eating more and gaining weight.

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