Obesity is a medical condition that means that when a person carries excess weight or body fat it might affect their health.  They could be more susceptible to problems such as diabetes, sleep apnoea, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, varicose veins, and skin problems.  They could die younger and it could impact their mental health, self-confidence and cause difficulties with day to day living.

Obesity is caused when a person has much more calorie intake than energy expenditure is.  That is, they eat or drink more calories than they burn which causes weight. However, there are many factors that could also lead to being obese including:

  • Physical inactivity – With the world of devices, computers, televisions, people more and more are not exercising regularly. If you are not active enough, you do not use the energy provided by the food you eat, and the extra kilojoules are stored as fat instead. It can also increase the likelihood of developing other heart disease risk factors. So, try and exercise, at least begin walking. Walking is a low-impact exercise that you can do nearly anywhere, inside or outside.
  • Overeating – this refers to eating more calories than your boy uses for energy. It sometimes is regarded as an eating disorder, especially if you have addictions to some foods. Symptoms of overeating can include,
    • binge eating, or eating uncontrollably even when you are not hungry,
    • eating quickly
    • eating alone
    • feeling guilty
  • Genetics – It has been proven that a person is more likely to develop obesity if one or both parents are obese. This is because people who have obesity have multiple genes that predispose them to gain excess weight.
  • Medications – Some medicines can cause people to put on weight. This could be because they can stimulate your appetite which causes you to eat more and gain extra weight. Other medicines might affect your body’s metabolism which slows down the rate it burns calories. Other medicines might affect the way your body stores and absorbs sugars.  Some medicines may cause you to be tired, or out of breath, which means you may be less likely to exercise. The main medicines that cause weight gain include
    • Medicines for diabetes
    • Antipsychotic medicines
    • Antidepressant medicines
    • Epilepsy medicines
    • Steroid hormone medicines
    • Blood pressure -reducing medicines
  • Psychological factors – Although there is no one psychological factor that causes obesity there can be many factors that cause behaviours such as eating too much and lack of activity. These can include
    • Personality factors
    • Stress
    • Feelings of being out of control
    • Dysfunctional eating (including binging)
    • Emotional eating
    • Psychological distress such as, but not limited to depression and anxiety
    • Substance abuse (including alcohol)
    • Family/cultural/socioeconomic factors

It is important to try and address some, or all, of these issues when looking for the causes of obesity.

  • Diseases – There are a number of diseases that can contribute to obesity including;
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Insulin resistance
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Cushing’s syndrome
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Social Issues – There is a link between the socio-economic factors and obesity. This can be due to lack of money to buy healthy foods or lack of safe places to walk. Either way, social issues can lead to several of the previous causes and can put someone at risk.

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