Text Size
Smaller
Bigger

If you have a body mass index score of greater than 25 you are overweight and if you score higher than 30 you’re obese – and if you’re overweight or obese you’re hardly alone, since an overwhelming majority of Americans fall into at least one of these categories.

But why are so many of us so heavy and why is it so hard to lose that extra fat?

At the most basic level, obesity occurs when, over time, a person consumes more calories than she expends. Simple stuff…

It’s not hard to understand, but if you’ve ever tried to lose that weight that plagues you then you know that while the answer may be simple; achieving lasting weight loss is anything but easy.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the 10 factors that may be sabotaging your good intentions – 10 things that can cause you to inadvertently eat more than you should or that may be causing you to burn less calories per day than you’d ideally want to.

The 10 Subtle Causes of Obesity

1. Lack of Sleep

People who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night may trigger hormonal changes which increase appetite1

2. Inactivity

Exercise burns calories, but getting regular exercise also builds lean muscle mass, which leads to a quicker resting metabolism. Exercise also helps to decrease hunger and boost mood, which can reduce the odds of eating for pleasure’s sake alone.

3. Age

Younger people have greater caloric needs than older people. Older people do not metabolize calories as quickly and older people require fewer calories each day per pound of body weight.

4. Sex Differences

On average, women have slower resting metabolisms than men do. A woman’s resting metabolism will slow even further after menopause.

5. Pregnancy

Pregnancy results in very natural and essential weight gain. This weight, much of it from increased fat stores, can be hard for many women to lose afterwards, especially during a period when the energy and time demands of new motherhood can make increasing physical activity difficult.

6. Food and Lifestyle Choices

Obviously, your habits and choices contribute to either eating sensibly or excessive eating. Lifestyle choices associated with weight gain include

  • Eating fast foods or highly processed foods (these foods tend to be very high in fat, sugar and salt)
  • Frequent high calorie snacking (eating chips in front of the TV)
  • Frequently choosing refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta etc.) over whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Frequently eating out in restaurants (portions tend to be larger than you need, you don’t control the fat or sugar added, you may be tempted to add a starter and dessert etc.)
  • Excessive alcohol use – alcohol is very high in calories2
  • Consuming high calorie beverages (soft drinks etc.)
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Eating most of your calories at night

7. Your Genes

Your genetic makeup can increase your likelihood of obesity. If your biological mother is heavy as an adult you have a 75% chance of also being heavy. If your biological mother is at a healthy weight as an adult you have a 75% chance of also having a healthy weight as an adult. Studies show that adopted children are more likely to mimic the weights of their biological parents than their adopted parents; proving that this effect is genetic and not environmental in nature.3

8. Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions are associated with weight gain, such as:

  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Arthritis (can lead to decreased mobility/activity)
  • Depression

9. Medications

Certain medications can lead to weight gain, such as:

  • Some antidepressants
  • Some blood pressure medications, such as beta blockers
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Medications for heartburn, such as Prevacid and Nexium
  • Diabetes medications such as Diabeta and Diabinese4
  • Corticosteroids such as prednisone
  • Antipsychotics

10.  Psychological Problems

Certain psychological conditions, such as binge eating disorder, can lead to obesity. People who use food as a way to manage negative emotions are also at increased risk of obesity.

References
Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category

Page last updated Apr 22, 2012

Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Reading
Use Gut Bacteria to Fight Anxiety and Depression
Gut Bacteria Protect Your Mental Health. Learn How to Protect Your Microbiome © NIAID
Imbalanced gut bacteria may increase your risk of anxiety, depression, obesity and a host of other diseases. Learn how digestive bacteria can cause anxiety and find out how dietary changes can help you instill or protect an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria. Read Article
Co-Occurring Disorders May 26, 2016
Childhood Obesity - Encourage Weight Loss
Childhood Obesity - How Parents Can Safely Encourage Weight Loss © Max Roeleveld
Obese kids should be encouraged to lose weight for greater physical and often mental health. Learn how to encourage weight loss, without increasing the risk of an eating disorder. Read Article
Eating Disorders March 06, 2008 (2)
Are You a Food Addict?
Quick Food Addiction Self Test © Stefan
Worried about the compulsive nature of your relationship to food? Take this very quick quiz and see if you might meet the diagnosis for food addiction. Read Article
Food Addiction April 19, 2012
Find Help In...
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.