In basic terms, obesity occurs when more calories are taken in than what’s burned. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers it an epidemic. Affecting more than 90 million Americans, excess weight often seriously impacts quality of life. Common causes of obesity involve genetics and lifestyle choices.
Genetics and Family History
Many people who are severely overweight had a genetic predisposition to obesity, although there is some evidence genetic mutations may play a role in some cases. Having parents who are obese often contributes to obesity developing in children and teens. A reduced production of leptin, the hormone that tells the brain to eat less when the body has already stored enough fat, may also affect weight.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
Diets high in unhealthy fats (trans fats and saturated fats) often led to excessive weight gain. Simple carbohydrates found in beer, many tasty desserts, and sugary beverages can contribute to obesity. Although the complex carbs found in brown rice and many vegetables are good. Having meals that include little nutritional value also leads to weight gain, as does opting for unhealthy snacks between regular meals.
Lack of Physical Activity
Leading an inactive, or sedentary, life often leads to weight gain. A lack of physical activity means that fewer calories are being burned, which means excess pounds tend to accumulate over time. A Stanford study involving over 20 years of health survey data concluded that inactivity led to obesity more than diet choices alone.
Some people have a tendency to make food their go-to source for stress relief. A constant habit of emotional eating often leads to weight gain. One reason for this is because most people opt for comfort foods that are high in calories, sugar, and fat and low in nutritional value.
Cushing’s syndrome is one of several health conditions that may contribute to weight gain. Women of childbearing age may develop polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition characterized by high levels of hormones called androgens.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 3 million people die each year as a result of obesity-related conditions. That number could be even higher if you consider conditions linked to excess weight, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Taking proactive steps to control weight presents many challenges and sometimes involves surgical weight loss as a consideration.