What Causes Obesity?
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What is Obesity? Why People Become Over-Weight?

Published on Apr 13, 2017 and last reviewed on Jan 30, 2023   -  5 min read


Obesity is a ‘silent epidemic.’ This article tells about how to find out if you are obese and its reasons.

What is Obesity? Why People Become Over-Weight?

Who Is Considered as an Obese Person?

  • An Obese person has too much body fat and thus has a negative effect on their health.

  • People are considered obese when they weigh over 20% of their ideal body weight.

  • On the other hand, one may consider body mass index. Body mass index, more popularly known as BMI, is a ratio of the person’s height to weight. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and over 30 is considered obese. Of course, this is in a fatty person.

  • Having said that, BMI is a useful indicator in the average person. The person may have a higher weight even if he is muscular, e.g., bodybuilders. So BMI may be erroneous.

Many people start a regime to lose weight and find it difficult to lose weight. Obesity is self-perpetuating. To understand this, one has to consider two theories:

  1. Weight gain is a physiological process where the body conserves energy and stores it as fat. The stored fat could be used in times of stress, fast, and famine to tide over the drought periods.

  2. The person who becomes obese has his body cheated by the mind when it sets the normal weight for itself at a higher weight. The body, therefore, consumes accordingly and conserves energy even as you increase the exercise level.

What Causes Obesity?

A person may be obese for more than one reason :

Eating Too Much - Consuming too many calories, especially in heavy meals, is one of the most important reasons. Western diet is especially rich in calories. Those famed burgers and pizzas can do wonders for the weight and cholesterol, raising them by leaps. Interestingly, the most common cause of high calories in the diet is not fat but sugars and carbohydrates. So beware of those cold drinks and fast foods.

Poor Diet - Obesity does not happen in a single day. Choice of poor diet like the following can cause obesity:

  • Excessive intake of processed foods.

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol.

  • Having outside foods a lot.

  • Intake of excessive sugary drinks.

  • Eating too much.

  • Eating to comfort yourself.

An Inactive Lifestyle - Modern life has become quite sedentary. Most people have an average life of waking in the morning. Going to their offices, sitting and doing their scheduled work, coming back home, and relaxing in front of the idiot box or the machine you are sitting in front of right now. Modern convenience devices like washing machines, kitchen appliances, cars, and even remotes lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. Buying bread once included walking down the street to the store. Now it is walking to the car, while sometimes it is only dialing a number and getting the bread delivered. So obviously, the less you move, the fewer calories you spend. Lesser activity causes an imbalance of your hormonal levels, especially insulin- thereby causing weight gain and diabetes.

Decreased Sleep - Another bane of modern civic city life. You sleep less and try to work more hours. The odds are that insufficient sleep may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. And the modern education system only ups the risk of obesity. Less sleep in children also increases their weight. Lack of sleep again causes a hormonal imbalance- increased ghrelin (the hormone ghrelin increases hunger) and decreased leptin (this hormone decreases hunger, thereby increasing the appetite.

Some Foods and Medicines Affect Lipid Metabolism - Fructose, a form of sugar, may raise obesity by its effects on the brain. The satiety centers of the brain, the centers that tell the body that it has eaten enough, are not stimulated. Therefore, a person tends to overeat and gain more calories. Fructose, metabolized by the liver, may lead to hypertension, insulin resistance, and thus, resulting in diabetes and obesity. Many commonly used drugs may cause obesity, but this varies from person to person.

Obesity May Be Genetically Induced - Genes are now being discovered to predispose people to develop obesity. These people may prefer high-calorie diets or simply metabolize the consumed calories slowly.

Smoking - Smoking has an effect on weight. But the results are unreliable. Besides, the dangers it puts on a person outweighs the benefits of weight loss it may cause. Under no circumstances should one consider smoking as a remedy.

Medical Conditions - Hypothyroidism and Cushing's syndrome are underlying medical conditions that can bring about weight gain.

How Is Obesity Diagnosed?

  • One of the most reliable methods for diagnosing obesity is calculating the individual's body mass index. BMI between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal and healthy. BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight, and BMI above 30 is considered obesity.

  • General history and physical examination help in diagnosis.

  • Also, measuring weight circumference is helpful in diagnosis. Fat stored in the waist is called visceral fat, which increases the risk of developing diabetes and cardiac diseases. Women’s waist measurement of more than 35 inches is considered obese, and more than 40 inches in men is obese.

  • Modern life propagates weight gain, and one has to be careful about its related health conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac and neural risks, to name a few. While one cannot really get rid of modern life, one can do something about his daily lifestyle and make changes in his eating and exercise patterns to beat the effects of contemporary life. The toll brought about by this style of life can be significantly reduced.

How Can We Treat Obesity?

  1. Doing dietary changes like reducing the intake of calories, choosing a healthy diet, avoiding sugary foods, fatty foods, carbonated drinks, and high-carbohydrate foods, replacing meals with healthy snack bars or low-calorie shakes, etc., help in reducing weight.

  2. Increasing daily physical activities and doing regular exercises also help in weight management.

  3. Undergoing behavioral therapy to address the psychological factors associated with overeating and joining support groups to gain motivation help in weight loss.

  4. Along with this, the FDA recommends taking weight-loss medications like Liraglutide, Bupropion-Naltrexone, Phentermine-Topiramate, and Orlistat.

  5. Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty and intragastric balloon are endoscopic procedures that contribute to weight loss.

  6. Adjustable gastric banding, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass surgery are surgical procedures to treat weight loss.

  7. Hydrogels, gastric aspirate, and vagal nerve blockade are other treatments that help in reducing weight in obese patients.


Obesity is a manageable condition with appropriate lifestyle modifications and dietary changes. Do not stress yourself about being obese, as it further leads to obesity. Also, when someone you know is obese, do not Make fun of them; instead, encourage them to lose weight.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Obesity?

Obesity is a ‘silent epidemic.’ An obese person has too much body fat and thus has a negative effect on their health. People are considered obese when they weigh over 20% of their ideal body weight.


What Are the Reasons for Obesity?

- Excessive intake of processed foods.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol.
- Regular intake of outside foods.
- Intake of excessive sugary drinks.
- Eating too much.
- Eating to comfort yourself


Who Does Obesity Affect?

Obesity affects those people who do not live a very active life nor follow a healthy diet pattern. A sedentary lifestyle, family history of cardiac problems, and related factors are also responsible.


When Does Obesity Become a Problem?

Being overweight is a major problem that results in several hurdles and hindrances in the life of the patient. Obesity, being the next stage of overweight causes difficulties and diseases.


Is Child Obesity Increasing?

Yes, child obesity is drastically increasing because of the current lifestyle modification as well as the habits that are extremely detrimental to the health of a child.


Does Sleep Burn Fat?

Yes, sleep does burn fat in an indirect manner. An adequate amount of sleep is necessary for proper digestion, which is, in turn, compulsory for burning fat in the long run.


Does Drinking Hot Water Burn Fat?

Drinking hot water does not burn fat immediately nor does it act on the adipose tissues which are responsible for fat buildup in a direct manner. It is an adaptation to a healthy lifestyle.


What Foods Help Lose Weight?

Doing dietary changes like reducing the intake of calories, choosing a healthy diet, avoiding sugary foods, fatty foods, carbonated drinks, and high-carbohydrate foods, replacing meals with healthy snack bars or low-calorie shakes, etc., help in reducing weight.


What Are the Signs of Weight Loss?

- Increased energy.
- Enthusiasm.
- Inch loss.
- Reduced water weight.
- Sound sleep pattern.
- Reduced urges to eat refined sugars

Last reviewed at:
30 Jan 2023  -  5 min read




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