5 Causes of Weight Gain
Obesity is on the rise and experts predict that by 2030 a third of the world’s population will be considered to be overweight or obese, bringing with it some serious health risks. It is estimated that at least 2.8 million people die every year from weight related diseases such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes and the number is growing year on year. But what has caused this epidemic?
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a medical condition in which a person is carrying at least 20% more weight than what is considered to be normal for optimal health. It is when a person has a body mass index of 30 or more and the excess fat usually gathers around the waist.
Causes of Obesity
The most common cause of obesity is an energy imbalance in the body which occurs when more calories are taken in than needed. The body needs calories for activities such as simply breathing, digesting, exercising and regulating body temperature. However, if a person eats more calories than they burn up, the extra calories are stored in the body and the person gains weight. Therefore, the most common causes of obesity are poor diet and lack of physical activity but other factors such as genetics, hormonal imbalances and certain medications can also play a key role.
- Diet and overeating
It is clear that overeating leads to weight gain but it is not simply eating too much but the type of foods consumed that tip the balance. Interestingly, when a country adopts the Western diet of cheap fast foods and processed products, people quickly become obese. Our modern diets are largely processed foods containing highly palatable ingredients, making people just keep coming back for more. These junk foods can sometimes lead to obessive overeating because of the powerful feel-good response they give. Processed foods are often high in calories with the main ingredients being unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar and artificial substances and are often very low in nutrients.
- Lack of exercise
Physical inactivity is one of the biggest downsides of our modern lifestyles as machines now do the work people used to do and technology is keeping most people sitting all day. The truth is even if people eat healthy foods, if they lead sedentary lifestyles fewer calories will be burned and a weight gain may result.
Science has shown that genetics can play a role and several genetic syndromes are associated with obesity including Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. However, genes don’t always predict a person’s health and often it is combination of genes and behaviour that result in obesity.
- Endocrine Disorders
The body’s endocrine system produces hormones that regulate important bodily functions. Common endocrine disorders associated with weight gain include Hypothyroidism in which thyroid hormone levels are too low and Cushing’s Syndrome where excessive levels of the stress hormone cortisol are produced.
It is important to be aware of the side effects of some pharmaceutical drugs as weight gain is possible when taking antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptics and antihyperglycemics.
Carrying excessive weight brings with it many potential health problems including higher risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes. This kind of diabetes often starts as a condition called insulin resistance which occurs when the cells no longer respond properly to insulin and the body tries to cope by producing more insulin. If allowed to continue, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes. The good news is that this condition can often be reversed through an insulin fighting diet, supplements and lifestyle changes to shed excess kilos.
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