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Overweight and Obesity: Causes and Risk Factors

Medical Content Writer
Arzu Cetinkaya Medical Content Writer
Overweight and Obesity: Causes and Risk Factors

The causes of obesity go far beyond too much food and too little exercise. What exactly goes wrong in the body when obesity occurs is not yet fully understood. However, it is becoming apparent that our body is stubbornly defending the excess weight. People who are overweight do not necessarily eat more or exercise less than slim people. Genetic predisposition, illnesses, medication or hormones can also favour weight gain.

Overweight: Causes of obesity at a glance

There are many reasons for being overweight. The main causes of obesity are:

Unhealthy eating behaviour and diets

One of the main causes of obesity is incorrect eating behaviour. If you eat too much and consume too many calories, you are very likely to put on weight. High-calorie food is also constantly available. Diets (yes, you read that right) also play a role in the development of obesity.

Lack of exercise

An important reason for overweight and obesity is our sedentary lifestyle. Many people spend a large part of their working and leisure time sitting down – in front of the computer or television, for example. The energy consumption is correspondingly low. A high-calorie diet and too little exercise are naturally noticeable on the scale: If you eat more calories than you burn, your body stores the excess as fat.

Family predisposition

Our genes determine our fat metabolism. They determine how much we eat, when we feel satiated, how well or poorly we utilise the food we eat and where we store excess fat. However, this does not mean that you will necessarily become overweight just because it runs in your family. It just means that you have an increased risk.

Certain diseases and medication

Certain illnesses can also make you fat. The causes of obesity include:

  • An untreated hypothyroidism: It increases the risk of obesity.
  • Cushing’s syndrome: The excessive production of cortisol in Cushing’s syndrome can lead to obesity.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): In women, it can lead to a disturbance of the insulin balance and is often associated with obesity.
  • Testosterone deficiency can promote fat storage in men.
  • Depression: Researchers have observed that obesity and depression can favour each other
  • Chronic physical illnesses can also be linked to obesity. For example, osteoarthritis can lead to less exercise.
  • There are also medications that promote fat storage or stimulate the appetite. The following medications can therefore favour obesity:Antidiabetics, antidepressants, glucocorticoids, neuroleptics.

Stress and psychological strain

Stress and psychological strain can favour obesity. Among other things, certain hormones are responsible for this. And if you think too much at night and sleep too little, you also tend to eat more. This is caused by hormonal influences on the feeling of hunger and satiety.

Other causes

  • Eating disorders (for example binge eating disorder)
  • Pregnancy
  • Nicotine abstinence