Understanding the causes of obesity is important in helping patients lose weight. Each patient is different, and obesity can be caused by a number of different factors. These direct and indirect causes of obesity can help patients and their health care providers to find the best possible weight loss solutions.
The behavior and choices that individuals have often lead to obesity. One of the most important behaviors related to obesity is the connection to food choices. Foods such as hamburgers, fries, and soda are pleasing to the palate and taste better to most people compared to healthier and lower calorie options such as vegetable soup or grilled chicken. In addition to making poor dietary choices, some people have “portion distortion.” Extra-large bagels and cookies, 12-ounce steaks and other foods prepared at home and consumed in restaurants are two or even three times bigger than they were previously.
A lack of physical activity also plays a role in obesity. At work, many people sit all day rather than moving around. Driving to places close to home, rather than walking or biking, also plays a role. Spending time watching TV and using technology also decreases physical activity.
A person’s environment plays an important role in determining their routine and lifestyle. Influences such as the availability of junk food may cause people to make choices that contribute to obesity. Society has also developed a more sedentary way of life, with less physical activity and exercise. For many people, using a smartphone, tablet, or video game console has replaced calorie-burning activities such as going for a bike ride or working in the garden. Home-cooked, healthy meals have often been replaced with convenience and fast foods.
A genetic predisposition to obesity affects many people. However, not everybody with a family history or predisposition to obesity will become obese. Genetic conditions such as Kleinfelter’s Syndrome may also cause people to become obese.
Metabolic and Immune Diseases
Metabolic disorders and diseases of the immune system may also cause obesity. Metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and Cushing’s syndrome are known to cause weight gain. Conditions such as hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease cause a person’s metabolism to become slow, making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Individuals who have autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis that require steroid treatment may also gain weight due to the medications they need to manage their symptoms.