Obesity has emerged as a global health disorder in recent decades, with a growing prevalence among the younger generations.
Obesity is the result of consuming more calories than your body can metabolize or utilize on a regular basis. These unused calories get stored as fat and lead to excessive weight gain over time.
Every person has a different calorie requirement, which depends on their body type and how active they are.
The Major Contributors to Obesity
Obesity is a serious health disorder that can be caused due to:
1. Family history
Obesity can be a hereditary disorder that is passed down through generations. If your parents or some of your close relatives are obese, you have a high chance of developing it as well.
In other words, someone with a genetic susceptibility to obesity is more likely to be affected by it than someone who has no such family history.
2. Environment and lifestyle
Unhealthy food and lifestyle habits, when sustained for a long duration, can collectively manifest themselves as obesity and its related symptoms.
You may develop obesity due to the following lifestyle factors:
- A hectic work schedule and personal life that leaves no room for exercise.
- Frequenting food chains that serve high-calorie junk and processed food.
- Regularly dining out. Restaurant meals are all about exciting the taste buds and have little nutritional value. They are loaded with calories, and their frequent consumption fills you with way more carbohydrates than your body would utilize.
Research suggests that both depression and obesity can have underlying genetic causes. (1) It is understandable then that people with a family history of depression or obesity or both are genetically predisposed to developing either one or both conditions at some point in their lives.
Depression may prevent a person from paying attention to his/her food choices, resulting in unhealthy eating patterns that contribute to weight gain. This is made worse by the characteristic lethargy and lack of motivation that restricts the depressed individual to a sedentary life.
General inactivity, combined with unregulated dietary choices, can pave the way for obesity. At times, medicines prescribed for depression can also result in obesity as a side effect.
4. Sleep deprivation
Adequate sleep is quite important in regulating your weight profile. People who do not get enough sleep regularly are more likely to develop obesity than those who have a healthy sleeping routine.
Sleep deprivation can trigger weight gain in the following ways:
- Not getting enough sleep can render you too exhausted to exercise and burn extra calories. A sleep-deprived body will be unable to take the strain of regular exercise. Over time, this lack of physical exercise will make it difficult for you to maintain a healthy weight.
- People who cannot manage to sleep properly often indulge in mindless snacking as a way to kill time. If you are not sleeping through the night, you will simply have more instances of binge eating. Longer waking hours lead to more frequent hunger pangs. Eating out of boredom and not hunger will contribute to weight issues, including obesity.
- Sleep imbalances can inhibit the normal secretion and effects of appetite hormones, namely, ghrelin and leptin. This hormonal imbalance can increase your appetite, and you will end up eating a lot more than is required. (2)
Some people may develop drug-induced obesity as a side effect of certain medications prescribed by their doctor.
Early weight gain due to medicines is often overlooked and is considered to be a normal part of the healing process. Over time, this can develop into clinical obesity.
Medicines prescribed for hypertension, migraines, seizures, and psychotropic drugs such as those recommended for mood disorders can interfere with your appetite and metabolism. They can also cause water retention and make you look bloated.
6. Socioeconomic Factors
Obesity in both men and women can be directly influenced by socioeconomic conditions, including the quality of education, profession, and income group. The adverse impact of these factors may be interlinked or individual.
People who are well to do socially may face a lesser risk of developing obesity as compared to their poorer counterparts.
It is also seen that obesity in the female population is highly impacted by the amount of earning, while income had little or no effect on obesity in men. In addition, the risk of obesity is generally found to increase with age in both men and women. (3)
As strange as it may sound, the microscopic airborne pollutants and toxins that surround you can contribute to unwarranted weight gain.
According to the latest research, air pollution is one of the prominent causes behind increased obesity in children and teenagers. (4) Increased air pollution may lead to internal inflammation and disrupt normal metabolism, which can then invite obesity.
8. Eating disorders
Eating disorders have a direct impact on body weight and are common causes of obesity, especially in people who are already on the heavy side.
People with eating disorders have a psychological or emotional dependence on food that makes them consume large quantities of food in one sitting.
Obesity is known to be both the cause and result of mindless eating or overeating. Out of the different obesity issues known, binge eating disorder (BID) is shown to cause several health risks.
9. Other risk factors
The following factors can also make you more prone to obesity:
- Prolonged stress, which leads to an increase in cortisol hormone levels
Diet modification is recommended as the main tool for curbing calorie intake and achieving 60% of the desired weight loss, but it fares better when combined with regular moderate-intensity physical training to assist with further weight reduction.
Eating less and exercising more may prove sufficient for managing normal weight gain, but it usually takes a lot more to overcome obesity. There is no standard treatment for this condition, as it can occur for different reasons in different people. In severe cases where obesity crosses hazardous thresholds for health, clinical procedures and medications remain the only way out.
You have to work with your doctor to come up with the best treatment plan, and consistently follow it until you arrive at your ideal body weight. It can take time, but you must stay committed to the treatment.