Around 30% of adults in the United States were estimated to be obese. Many people blame obesity on poor dietary choices and inactivity, but it’s not always that simple. Other factors can have powerful effects on body weight and obesity, some of which are outside of a person’s control.
These include genetics, environmental factors, certain medical conditions, and more.
Genetics and prenatal factors
Health is especially important during early life, as this affects your health later on. In fact, a lot can be determined while the fetus is still in the womb. A mother’s diet and lifestyle choices matter a great deal and may influence a baby’s future behavior and body composition.
Studies show that women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are more likely to have heavy 3-year-olds. Similarly, children who have parents and grandparents who are obese are much more likely to be obese than kids with parents and grandparents who are normal weight.
Furthermore, the genes you inherit from your parents may determine your susceptibility to weight gain. Though genetics and early life factors are not exclusively responsible for obesity, they contribute to the problem by predisposing people to weight gain.
About 40% of children with excess weight will continue to be heavy during their teenage years, and 75−80% of teenagers with obesity will maintain this condition into adulthood.
Genetics, a mother’s weight, and family history can all increase the likelihood of childhood and adult obesity.
Birth, infancy, and childhood habits
Though the reason is unknown, children born via C-section seem more prone to obesity later in life. This is also true for formula-fed infants, who tend to be heavier than breastfed babies.
This may be because the two groups develop different gut bacteria, which can affect fat storage. It’s important to note that these factors are generally not made by choice of either the mother or baby yet seem to be linked to the child’s obesity risk.
Additionally, forming healthy dietary and exercise habits during childhood may be the most valuable prevention against obesity and lifestyle-related diseases. If young children develop a taste for healthy foods instead of processed junk foods, it helps them maintain normal weight throughout their life.
Certain childhood factors may affect your risk of obesity later on. These include childbirth method, breastfeeding, and childhood dietary and exercise habits.
Medications or medical conditions
Many medical conditions can only be treated with pharmaceutical drugs. Weight gain is a common side effect of many such medications, including diabetes medications, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
These drugs may increase your appetite, reduce your metabolism, or even alter your body’s ability to burn fat, increasing your rate of fat storage. Additionally, many common medical conditions can predispose you to weight gain. A key example is a hypothyroidism.
Weight gain is a common side effect of many medications, including diabetes drugs, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
Powerful hunger hormones
Hunger and uncontrollable eating are not just caused by greediness or lack of willpower. Hunger is controlled by very powerful hormones and brain chemicals, involving areas of your brain that are responsible for cravings and rewards.
These hormones function improperly in many people with obesity, which alters their eating behavior and causes a strong physiological drive to eat more. Your brain has a reward center, which starts secreting dopamine and other feel-good chemicals when you eat.
This is the reason why most people enjoy eating. This system also ensures that you eat enough food to get all the energy and nutrients you need. Eating junk food releases much more of these feel-good chemicals than eating unprocessed food. This yields a much more powerful reward in your brain.
This system also ensures that you eat enough food to get all the energy and nutrients you need. Eating junk food releases much more of these feel-good chemicals than eating unprocessed food. This yields a much more powerful reward in your brain.
Your brain may then seek more reward by causing powerful cravings for these junk foods. This can lead to a vicious cycle that resembles addiction. Hunger is controlled by powerful hormones. These hormones often function improperly in people with obesity, which causes a strong physiological drive to eat more, resulting in weight gain.
When it comes to obesity, multiple factors are at play, many of which are beyond your control, including genetics, childhood habits, medical conditions, and hormones.
Though becoming overweight or obese may not be a choice and shedding excess weight may be difficult, you can lose weight if you choose to 🙂 🙂