Do you know that more than 650 million adults were obese, according to a 2016 survey? And that is 13 percent of the world's adult population (1). In the US alone, the obesity rate is almost 40 percent of its population. It is rapidly increasing over the years. In fact, no state has experienced a drop in its obesity rate in the last five years (2)

Obesity is a condition wherein your body contains an excessive amount of fat. This is a complex issue that exposes you to a higher risk of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (3). Since this issue is very prevalent in all parts of the world, we need to understand the main causes of obesity. Some of us may think that obesity is just due to a lack of willpower, but it is more than it. There are numerous causes of obesity, and some are listed below:


According to studies, there is a 40 to 70 percent chance of becoming an obese due to genetics. It was found out that rare single-gene defects, such as leptin deficiency, POMC deficiency, and MC4R deficiency, can cause severe obesity. And this starts in the early childhood wherein an individual experiences extreme hunger. 

Furthermore, people who are prone to gain excess weight have multiple genes that may cause reduced satiety, increased caloric intake, reduced control overeating, increased hunger levels, and increased chances to store body fat and to be sedentary (4)

In other studies, it is concluded that the chances of children becoming overweight are high, especially if their parents are obese. But don't think that it is true to all. The study does not entirely say that obesity is predetermined. Well, some people seemed to be susceptible to weight gain, which eventually leads to obesity.

Too much calorie consumption

One of the common reasons why people gain weight is because of the consumption of too many calories. People who consume more calories than they burn are most likely to gain weight. The energy will be converted into fats, and these fats will be stored by the body, leading to weight gain much worse obesity (5)

Your food choices can also affect your weight. All of us are aware that not all foods are healthy. There are some kinds of foods that can make you gain weight, especially those which are high in sugar and fats. Foods such as fried foods, fast foods, dairy products, fatty and processed meats, processed foods, sweetened drinks, and foods with added sugar such as ready-made cereals, baked goods, and cookies are all high in calories (6).

Food addiction

Aside from high in calories, sweetened foods and junk foods can stimulate your brain’s reward centers (7). Just like the commonly abused drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, nicotine, and alcohol, foods can be addictive too. And if you are susceptible to addiction, you will most likely increase your intake of these foods. 

Food addiction can make you lose control over your eating behavior. And this experience is just like you are struggling with other addictions. Food addiction is a very complicated issue that can make it hard for you to overcome it. Addiction can deprive your freedom of choice, and this might affect your normal life. 

A sedentary lifestyle

Nowadays, people are leading to a sedentary lifestyle, and it is becoming a major health issue. Most people are already working in the office instead of manual labor. Some people prefer to play video games at home than to engage in physical activities to avoid boredom. Others use cars even if their destination is just a walking distance. 

Not only does consuming too many calories can make you gain weight, but burning fewer calories can also affect your weight. If you move less, the chance of burning calories is also less. That means that you might find it hard to lose weight. Most health experts recommended that you walk at least 10,000 steps a day for you to improve your entire well-being (8)

The sad news is that about 60 to 85 percent of people in the world do not get enough physical activities. And this makes physical inactivity one of the major risk factors of mortality (9). A sedentary lifestyle exposes you not only to an increased risk of obesity, but also to anxiety, depression, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. 

Lack of sleep

Sleep is always linked to obesity. People who are not sleeping enough are most likely to gain weight. There are many reasons why this occurs. One study has shown that people who are deprived of sleep do not engage in physical activities. This is because they are too tired to move because a lack of sleep affects their energy levels (10)

Other people who lack sleep also consume more calories because they have more time to eat, given the number of hours they are awake. Sleep deprivation can also affect hormones that regulate your appetite. For instance, it makes you produce more ghrelin than leptin. That means that your hunger level is most likely to be high. And if that happens, then chances are you eat a lot of foods (11)

Certain medications

    Some medications can make you gain weight. This might sound like good news for those who are underweight. But if you already have a healthy weight, gaining weight means that there is an increased chance that you will become overweight, much worse obese. Sometimes, it is not really the medication that causes weight gain. Instead, it is the side-effects of the drug that you are taking (12).

    Some medicines can stimulate your appetite; that is why you will observe that you want to eat more. Other medicines can change your metabolism. That means that your body burns calories slower. If that happens, then it will be hard for you to lose weight. Some medicines affect how your body absorbs sugar and nutrients, which can also be a factor of weight gain. 

    Medicines that can cause weight gain may include (13)

    • Antidepressant medicines such as sertraline, paroxetine, amitriptyline, and imipramine.
    • Epilepsy medicines such as gabapentin, carbamazepine, and valproate. 
    • Steroid hormone medicines such as birth control pills or prednisone. 
    • Blood pressure medicines like beta-blockers such as metoprolol and propranolol.
    • Medicines for diabetes such as thiazolidinediones, sulfonylureas, and insulin. 
    • Antipsychotic medicines such as risperidone, olanzapine, haloperidol, clozapine, and lithium.

    Leptin resistance

    Leptin, as mentioned earlier, is a hormone that can regulate your weight (14). It is produced by fat cells. But leptin levels decrease if you are starving. This hormone signals your brain that your body stored enough fat that is why it helps in curbing your appetite. It prevents you from eating an excessive amount of food and helps you burn calories normally. 

    If leptin levels in your body are low, you will most likely sense starvation. And this can increase your appetite. As we all know, eating a lot can lead to weight gain. It can also make you burn calories slower. If calories are not burned, then it will be stored as fats. Not all fats are bad, but excess fats can make you at risk of obesity (15)

    Availability of food

    There are already lots of foods available in the market nowadays. Junk foods are everywhere. Processed foods seemed to be too delicious. And these kinds of foods tend to be less cheap than whole foods, which are healthier. 

    Some people prefer to buy these foods because real foods, like fruits and vegetables, are way too costly. Besides, candies, sodas, and packaged junk foods are so addictive that they become part of our daily diet.

    Aside from that, producers of junk foods create aggressive marketing. Some make their foods appear as healthy even if they are not. And they do this in marketing their products even if it is unethical. Most people are led to believe that some junk foods or processed foods are also healthy.  


    Insulin is a very crucial hormone that allows you to utilize sugar from carbs in the food you consume to increase your energy levels. It is also responsible for storing sugar for you to use it in the future. It is also responsible for regulating your sugar levels so that it won’t be too high or too low. 

    Insulin has a huge role in your weight. It signals your cells either to store fats or to hold them. Some diets are promoting insulin resistance to lose weight, especially for those who are already obese. This diet can improve the insulin levels in your body so that fats are stored in your cells, instead of incurring them (16).

    Several studies have shown that high levels of insulin can cause obesity (17). And one of the best ways for you to decrease its level is to avoid the consumption of simple or refined carbs and to increase the intake of fiber (18). And if you have low levels of insulin, you will most likely reduce your calorie intake, and that makes it easier for you to lose weight. 


    Many people are addicted to sweets. Sweets are very helpful in relieving you from stress. But, these foods are bad for your health because it makes you at risk of various chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Foods rich in sugar are so addictive that they become a part of our diet, such as in every meal, we want to eat desserts.   

    Sugar is something that can affect your body's hormones; that is why it makes you fat when consumed in excess. Added sugar is half glucose and half fructose. Glucose may come from various foods such as starches. Fructose, on the other hand, usually comes from added sugar. The consumption of excess fructose might make you resistant to insulin and improve your insulin levels. Unlike glucose, fructose does not promote your satiety levels. And yes, sugar can also increase your energy storage which makes you prone to obesity (19).

    Added sugars can sweeten your foods and beverages. Sweeteners can make you eat or drink more of these foods or beverages because they help improve their tastes. The most common kinds of sweeteners usually present in foods are corn syrup, agave, cane sugar, and fructose. These foods are very rich in calories and offer little nutrients. Just come to imagine the number of carbs you get from sugar, for instance, using just two tablespoons of sugar can give you almost about 120 calories. No doubt that these foods are referred to as empty calories because they are void of nutrients such as fiber, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals, even if they are very rich in calories. 

    Foods and beverages high in sugar such as candies, cookies, sodas, and ice creams are also loaded with calories. These foods and beverages tend to be readily available in almost all grocery stores and supermarkets. There is no doubt why the case of obesity in all parts of the world is rapidly increasing. Sugar may also have some health benefits, and using small amounts are less likely to cause weight gain. But if you consume foods and drinks rich in sugar most of the times, chances are you will gain weight fast and eventually become obese. 


    Obesity is prevalent in all parts of the world. People who are obese are at an increased risk of numerous diseases. Obesity is not only due to the foods you eat, but it may also be due to other factors such as genetics, hormones, lifestyle, and medication. For you to avoid this serious condition, you need to identify the main cause of why you are becoming obese. 





















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