Obesity is a health topic that has been discussed for many years. While some people might not put much thought into this type of health condition, it can have a drastic knock-on effect on other aspects of your physical and mental health. Following the World Health Organization declaring obesity an epidemic in the United States in 1997, there have been a number of incentives and campaigns created as a means of combatting this condition. For some people, these incentives may have proved themselves helpful, but for others, not so much.
However, to say that obesity is purely caused by over-indulging and over-eating is incorrect. Following years of research and exploration, studies have shown several variables can contribute to obesity. It can be challenging to distinguish what these variables are precisely and how they contribute to obesity, but that is where we come into the equation.
Detailed in this article, you will find a list of some of the leading causes of obesity in the United States. Furthermore, you will also find some suggestions detailing how best you can combat these variables. Whether you have found that you are being impacted by several of these causes or just one on its own, we feel confident you will find something valuable below.
Genetics and Health Conditions
While most people might think of this as a ‘cop-out’ excuse for weight gain, there are numerous health conditions that can result in weight gain. At the same time, our genetic makeup can play a significant role in our weight as well. Research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that when significant changes occur within a specific gene in our body, we are more likely to experience obesity. However, there are an estimated fifty genetic causes associated with obesity. That is a high number of potential causes but are not the only ones that could be contributing to an increased appetite and symptoms of obesity.
Several health conditions can also cause obesity, including the likes of an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and Diabetes. Conditions like PCOS are challenging to manage and are challenging to prevent. On the other hand, conditions like Hypothyroidism can be managed with medication. Taking daily medication for conditions like this ensures you consistently create optimal thyroid levels and reduce your risk of weight gain and obesity. Naturally, when diagnosed with a disorder such as this, you should do what you can to read up on the logistics while also consulting your physician for advice and guidance.
While genetics undoubtedly play a role in an individual’s chances of developing obesity, they are not the be-all and end-all of what causes weight gain. There is a range of other factors that should be considered, which takes us to the following section.
It goes without saying, but when consuming significant amounts of junk food, you are at a higher risk of gaining weight and developing conditions like obesity. With access to junk food more accessible than ever and with wider varieties available to us at the touch of a button, there will undoubtedly be individuals reading this and beyond who are battling an addiction to junk food. Remember not to beat yourself up when in this position; you will not be the first person to be here and definitely won’t be the last.
High-fat junk foods are as addictive as alcohol, nicotine, and a number of drugs. Sugary foods stimulate the reward centers of the brain and make you feel good. It is easy to determine how people become addicted to consuming foods like these and subsequently developing obesity as a result. However, while that is very well the case, there are several things you can do to combat something like this and to tackle any desire to binge eat that you might be experiencing.
Firstly, monitoring your food consumption is one way of combatting something like this. At the same time, reducing the amount of junk food you are eating and swapping them for healthier alternatives is also something you could consider doing. Make a list of what foods you find yourself craving the most, and research whether there are any direct and healthy alternatives that you can implement into your diet.
Understandably, the accessibility of junk food is higher to a vast majority of the population in comparison to the accessibility of healthy foods. Whether as a result of lack of choice in terms of the stores near your home or the cost of healthy foods, they tend to be more expensive than junk food – these can also contribute significantly to the levels of obesity we are currently witnessing.
While these are factors that the individual cannot control, they are undoubtedly worth mentioning in this piece all the same. On the other hand, nothing stops you from finding a different store to shop at that offers a broader range of food or one that has cheaper alternatives for you.
As certain health conditions can cause obesity, there is no surprise that there are several medications out there that can also contribute towards obesity as well. Many pharmaceutical drugs can cause weight gain as a side effect, ranging from mild to moderate weight gain. Anti-depressants and other medication used to treat mental health conditions have been linked with moderate weight gain.
These types of medication do not change your willpower, but rather they alter your body functions. This includes reducing your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories consumed) and increasing your appetite. Naturally, you cannot do much to combat the decreased metabolic rate, but you can monitor how much you are eating when experiencing an increased appetite.
Birth control is also known to lead to weight gain. While a common side effect of birth control is that of an increased appetite, there is no evidence to show that the medication themselves cause weight gain through extra fat. Instead, birth control can lead to fluid retention in people who have just begun to take the medicine. Over time, this fluid is said to subside.
If you are concerned about weight gain through any medication you take, consult your physician to discuss these qualms. From here, you will be able to assess whether there are other medication options available for you to take in replacement or whether you are able to come off the medication entirely. Naturally, the pros and cons would have to be weighed up against one another, and you should take the professional opinion from your doctor into consideration.
While these are but some of the leading causes of obesity in the United States, we hope it has shed some light on this often-discussed topic. Many people may have found themselves having gained a few pounds throughout the pandemic; there is nothing wrong with a little bit of weight gain here and there, especially during a global pandemic. However, knowing when to intervene with your own or a loved one’s weight gain can be tricky and a challenging conversation to have. At the same time, know that there are things that can be done, both on an individual level and as a collective, when combatting obesity, whether for yourself or a loved one.