What are the Causes Of Obesity?


Obesity is an excessive or abnormal accumulation of body fat that can harm health. This condition can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, making it essential to understand the causes of obesity and risk factors. Follow this article to find more details:

Causes of Obesity

1- Unhealthy dietary habits

Obesity occurs when you consume more calories than your body burns through regular daily activities and exercise, leading to the storage of excess calories in the form of fat.

Unhealthy eating habits are among the prominent causes of this condition, and the following are some of these habits:

  • Overconsumption of fast foods: Fast foods often contain high calories, fats, and sugars, so overeating them can lead to obesity.

  • Consumption of sugary beverages in large quantities: This includes fruit juices and soft drinks.

  • Emotional eating: This term refers to overeating as a way to suppress or alleviate negative emotions, such as stress, anger, or fear.

2- Lack of physical activity

Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are major causes of obesity. Spending most of your time in front of computers, tablets, and phones can consume more calories than your body burns, resulting in weight gain.

3- Certain medical conditions

Several medical conditions can cause weight gain and consequently lead to obesity. Examples include:

  • Hypothyroidism: This is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones,  leading to weight gain.
  • Cushing’s syndrome: This rare condition causes excessive production of cortisol hormone in the body, leading to fat accumulation in the trunk, and thus obesity.

It is important to note that these medical conditions won’t hinder weight loss if diagnosed and treated appropriately. Therefore, you must consult a doctor if you are obese and have any of these conditions.

4- Certain medications

Some medications can cause weight gain, such as: 

  • Certain antidepressants.
  • Antiepileptic drugs.
  • Some diabetes medications.
  • Antipsychotic drugs.
  • Steroids.

Risk Factors of Obesity

In addition to the previously mentioned causes, certain factors can significantly increase the likelihood of developing obesity. The following are some of the most critical factors:

1- Genetic factors

Certain genetic factors are associated with obesity and weight gain,  especially since genes play a role in the following:

  • The amount of fat stored in the body.
  • The distribution of fat in the body. 
  • How calories are burned during physical activity. 
  • Appetite and satiety. 

Some genetic disorders contribute to obesity, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disease causing excessive appetite and overeating, leading to severe weight gain.

2- Psychological factors

Certain psychological factors can contribute to obesity. Some people overeat calorie-rich foods when experiencing stress, anger, or boredom. 

3- Social and economic issues

Obesity can be linked to specific social and economic factors, and the risk of obesity may be higher in the following cases:

  • Living in an area with no safe places for walking or exercising.
  • Spending most of your time with obese people.
  • Thinking that you cannot afford healthy foods due to their high cost.
  • Lack of knowledge about healthy cooking methods.

4- Age

Obesity can occur at any age, as it can also affect young children. However, as age advances, some changes raise the risk of obesity, such as decreased muscle mass and metabolism rate, making weight gain easier.

5- Other factors

In addition to the above factors, the following factors can also increase the risk of obesity:

  • Lack of sleep: Inadequate sleep is associated with hormonal changes that increase appetite and the desire to eat calorie-rich foods, leading to weight gain. 
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking cessation can lead to weight gain, and while some individuals may experience excessive weight gain, it is essential to focus on maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity during the quitting process. It’s worth noting that quitting smoking brings significant benefits to the body that outweigh this weight gain.

Obesity treatment methods

Specific causes of obesity may be medical, so consult a specialized doctor if you are experiencing this problem. The doctor will assist you in creating a suitable treatment plan for healthy and safe weight loss. This plan may include the following methods for treating obesity:

1- Dietary changes

The doctor may recommend the following changes:

  • Reducing calorie intake: This is essential for weight loss, so the doctor will assess your eating habits to determine the number of calories and how to minimize them.
  • Choosing healthy foods: The doctor advises consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein sources like legumes.
  • Reducing certain foods and beverages: Examples include sugary beverages, as reducing their consumption helps lower the calorie intake.

2- Exercise regularly 

While reducing calorie intake may help with weight loss, maintaining a healthy weight and preventing weight gain requires physical exercise. This exercise helps burn calories, so the doctor may ask you to do moderate-intensity physical activities for at least 150 minutes per week. 

3- Using weight loss medications

The doctor may prescribe weight loss medications as an additional treatment alongside dietary changes and physical exercise for some individuals. Examples of such medicines are Orlistat and Liraglutide. 

It is important to note that these medications may not suit everyone, and their effects may diminish over time, as weight might be regained after discontinuing their use. 

4- Undergoing surgical procedures

Weight loss surgical procedures can treat obesity by reducing food absorption or limiting the amount of food that can be comfortably consumed. Examples of these procedures include the following: 

  • Adjustable gastric banding.
  • Gastric bypass surgery.
  • Gastric sleeve.

It’s worth mentioning that weight loss surgical procedures are usually considered for severe cases of obesity.

The doctor determines the appropriate type of surgery based on several factors such as body mass index, eating habits, other health conditions the patient may have, previous surgical procedures, and the risks associated with each type of weight loss surgery.

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