7 Primary Causes of Obesity

Some reasons why obesity become a weighty issue

Written by J. Michael Gonzalez-Campoy MD, PhD, FACE

Americans are gaining weight, and obesity has become a national health threat. We can’t place the problem purely on self-control. Why has obesity become such a weighty issue?

Your daily meals are like a bank account: you take in calories (income) and spend them on physical activity (expense). When you take in more calories than you burn, you have a positive energy balance. While this would be a good thing for your bank account, it may not be a good thing for your weight. Of course, it is not simply a matter of addition and subtraction, and some people gain weight more readily than others. Several factors come into play.

Why Are We Packing On the Pounds?
Changes in our society and eating habits have contributed to the increase in obesity.

We eat differently.

We do not get enough physical activity.

We have become a nation of “couch potatoes.”

Breastfeeding is stopped too soon.

Other factors exist that are mostly out of our control.

Heredity plays a role.

Diseases

Medications

An individual’s behavior, socioeconomic status, culture, and environmental factors also contribute to overweight and obesity. In addition, hormones in the brain, the gastrointestinal tract, and in fat cells themselves influence his or her metabolism, eating habits, and, ultimately, weight.

March 25, 2015

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Adult Obesity. Updated August 3, 2010. www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/AdultObesity/#Whatcanbedone. Accessed March 20, 2015.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity: Adult Obesity Facts. Updated September 9, 2014. www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Accessed March 20, 2015.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Defining Overweight and Obesity. Reviewed April 27, 2012. www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html. Accessed March 20, 2015.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity in Children. Reviewed April 27, 2012. www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/basics.html. Accessed March 20, 2015.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Growing Problem. Reviewed April 17, 2013. www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/problem.html. Accessed March 20, 2015.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity. Causes and Consequences. Reviewed April 27, 2012. www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes/index.html. Accessed March 20, 2015.

Apovian C, Korner J. Hormones and Obesity Fact Sheet. Hormone Health Network. March 2010. www.hormone.org. Accessed March 20, 2015.

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Obesity and Health Consequences