Causes and Consequences of Obesity


Obesity has become one of the most substantial problems worldwide. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.

There can be various reasons that can lead to obesity. Most of the time, it is blamed on poor dietary choices and inactivity, but it’s not always that simple and is outside of a person’s control. These include genetics, environmental factors, and certain medical conditions.

Some of the leading causes of obesity are:

  1. Genetics – Heredity plays a huge role in obesity. Studies show that monozygotic twins are more prone to developing obesity than dizygotic twins. Although it does not mean that a person would become obese just because they have the gene. It also depends on what kind of diet the person is on. It has been studied that a more westernized diet can trigger the gene leading to an increase in obesity.
  2. Engineered Junk Foods – Everyday heavily processed foods are sold as they are designed to be cheap, long-lasting, and delicious for people to resist. This not only increases sales but also promotes overeating.
  3. Sugar and Food Addiction – Sugar is the single worst aspect of our diet. It contributes to increased energy storage and ultimately leads to obesity.

Studies have proven how high-fat junk foods stimulate the reward centers of the brain. Getting addicted to food is the same as getting addicted to drugs like alcohol or nicotine. People who get addicted to food lose control over their eating behavior.

  • Certain Medications – There are certain types of medications that lead to weight gain as a side effect. Antidepressants and antipsychotics are one such medicine that leads to weight gain over time.
  • Leptin Resistance – Leptin is a hormone that is directly connected to body fat and obesity. It sends signals to the part of the brain that tells one to stop eating. It regulates the calorie consumed and burned. More the fat contained in fat cells, more the leptin they produce. However, sometimes people develop a condition called leptin resistance which resists the brain from recognizing the amount of leptin being produced. Hence, when the brain doesn’t receive the leptin signal, it wrongly thinks that the person is starving even if more than enough body fat is stored. Hunger increases and fewer calories are burned.

Being overweight can have serious adverse consequences on both the body and the mind. Physiologically it leads to:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular and heart diseases
  • Joint problems like arthritis
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Cancer
  • Digestive disorders
  • Breathing problems
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Shorter life expectancy

Along with physiological issues, obesity can have a strong negative impact on the brain as well. Some of the psychological problems suffered are:

  • Depression
  • Negative self-image
  • Social isolation
  • Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa

Obese people often find it difficult to undertake regular tasks as the movement becomes harder and challenging. They tend to tire more quickly and find themselves short of breath.

These are some of the reasons that can contribute to obesity. Although it may become tough to shed excess weight, it is highly essential that one does to prevent from developing physiological and psychological problems. Following a proper regime of diet and physical exercise can keep the body and mind fit, healthy and young.