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Getting to the Root Causes of Obesity

Causes of obesity

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– By Andrea M. Pampaloni,  Ph.D.

Some people who have never struggled with weight issues might think that being overweight or obese reflects a lack of willpower. The rest of us know it’s not that simple.

Options, Options, Options

Certainly overeating and a lack of exercise are contributing to the obesity epidemic, not just in the United States but globally. But have you ever thought about why people overeat? Yes, sometimes it’s hard to say no to second helpings, but that is just one factor. With so many food options and places to get food, sometimes it’s hard to say no! You can fill your gas tank, pick up a newspaper and get your breakfast at the same place! What’s more, delivery services can bring just about anything you may need or want. For busy people on the go, this level of convenience saves time but the impact on weight and health takes a toll.

The Influence of Advertising

Think about all the advertising you see in a day that makes everything from breakfast cereal to dinner-in-a-box look like a gourmet delight. That can create a big temptation to try those products, and when those not so nutritious options cost far less than a pound of fruit, it can become even more appealing for those on a strict budget. It’s hard to make good decisions when there are so many influences pointing in another direction.

Environment and Exercise

It’s not just food that contributes to weight issues. We all know that we need to exercise but that’s often easier said than done. When you have time, your location or weather may not cooperate. Cities with crime or remote areas without well-lit, public streets can be dangerous, especially if you’re alone. Some areas also don’t have access to affordable, high-quality health care so there are few, if any, opportunities to learn about healthy food choices or the health risks associated with obesity.

Factors beyond our Control

In addition to the aforementioned items, there are factors that contribute to obesity which are beyond our control. In another post we discussed the hormones that don’t always work the way they should. When that happens, our bodies don’t let us know that we’re full so we keep eating. These hormones are difficult to control so even when we lose weight, we still have to figure out how to keep those hormones in balance to maintain the loss.

Illnesses and medications also can cause weight to fluctuate, as can mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Genetics and our parents also play a significant role. A mother’s weight is the greatest indicator of whether her child will have obesity, and if the father also has obesity, there is an 80 percent chance that their children will be obese.

There is not a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Weight Loss

Regardless of what body shape a person has, it is important for everyone to understand how these and other factors contribute to obesity. Only when the challenges that so many face in addressing their weight and associated health issues are acknowledged will stereotypes and stigmas go away. Weight gain and loss is an individual effort and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for everyone. The next time you see your health care provider, have an informed conversation about what has contributed to your weight issues and how you can achieve the best results for you. Being well informed means being in a better position to know how to approach your health care needs, and that makes good sense for everyone.


About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.

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