Although there are genetic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. Your body stores these excess calories as fat. Obesity usually results from a combination of causes and contributing factors, including:
Over consumption: Weight gain occurs when you eat more calories than your body burns. If you eat more calories than the required amount then the excess is converted and accumulated as fat. You become obese if you consistently consume excess calories over a long period of time.
High fat – refined sugary food: The type of food eaten may also play an important role in the rise of obesity. Over consumption of trans-fats and refined white flour carbohydrates, combined with low fiber intake causes excess fat accumulation in the body. These eating patterns are known to interfere with food and energy metabolism in the body, and cause excessive fat storage.
Reduced energy expenditure: Your activity level is also important. Activity uses calories, which helps balance the calories you get through food. If you are inactive, it may be easier to gain weight. People who eat more calories need to burn more calories, otherwise their calorie surplus is stored as fat. For example if you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you gain about 0.45kgs a month. That’s about 5kgs a year. Over two decades this energy surplus causes a weight gain of about 100kgs.
Family influence: Parental behavioral patterns concerning shopping, cooking, eating and exercise have an important influence on a child's energy balance and ultimately their weight. Thus family diet and lifestyle are important contributory causes to modern child obesity, especially at a time of rising affluence. Since obese children and adolescents frequently grow up to become obese adults, it's clear that family influence also extends to adult obesity.
Genetic causes: Obesity tends to run in families. This is caused both by genes and by shared diet and lifestyle habits. Numerous scientific studies have established that your genes play an important role in your tendency to gain excess weight. Genes affect a number of weight-related processes in the body, such as metabolic rate, blood glucose metabolism, fat-storage, hormones. Infants born to overweight mothers have been found to be less active and to gain more weight by the age of three months when compared with infants of normal weight mothers, suggesting a possible inborn drive to conserve energy.
Environmental factors: The most important environmental factor is lifestyle. Your eating habits and activity level are partly learned from the people around you. Overeating and sedentary habits (inactivity) are the most important risk factors for obesity. If you have a genetic predisposition toward obesity, then the modern lifestyle and environment that has readily available inexpensive food high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables may lead to weight gain and obesity.
Medical problems: Obesity can sometimes be traced to a medical cause, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing's syndrome, and other diseases and conditions. Some medical problems, such as arthritis, can lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain. A low metabolism is unlikely to cause obesity, as is having low thyroid function.
Not surprisingly, the steps to prevent weight gain are the same as the steps to lose weight: daily exercise, a healthy diet, and a long-term commitment to watch what you eat and drink.
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