Causes of Obesity
Genetic, environmental, psychological, and other factors all play a
Obesity tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic link. Yet families
also share diet and lifestyle habits that may also contribute to obesity.
Separating these from purely genetic factors is not easy.
Environment also strongly influences obesity. This includes lifestyle
behavior such as what a person eats and his or her level of physical
activity. Americans tend to eat high-fat foods, and put taste and convenience
ahead of nutrition. Also, most Americans do not take enough exercise.
you cannot change your genetic makeup, you can change your eating
habits and levels of activity.
Psychological factors also influence eating habits. Many people eat
in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger.
Most overweight people have
no more psychological problems than people of average weight. Still,
up to 10 percent of people who are mildly obese and try to lose weight
on their own or through commercial weight loss programs have binge eating
disorder. This disorder is even more common in people who are severely
Note: If you are
upset by binge eating behavior and think you might have binge eating
disorder, seek help from a health professional such as a psychiatrist,
psychologist, or clinical social worker.
Other causes of obesity
Some illnesses can lead to obesity or a tendency to gain weight. These
include hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, depression, and certain
neurological problems that can lead to overeating. Also, drugs such
as steroids and some antidepressants may cause weight gain. A doctor
can tell whether there are underlying medical conditions that are causing
weight gain or making weight loss difficult.