Perhaps you were obese for as far back as you can remember. Or perhaps you were healthy and fit and turned obese over time. The result is the same in either case — and many of the reasons for why we become obese are also the same.
Why We Were Obese
A few years ago I posted a question on BariatricPal, an online bariatric surgery community. I asked how it was that people with no history of obesity eventually became obese. What had happened? The answers I got were both accurate and astute. Here’s what people had to say.
“…I changed to a career which didn’t naturally burn thousands of calories/day.” The most simple formula for weight loss or weight gain is the balance between calories consumed and calories burned. If you burn more calories than you consume you will lose weight. If you burn less calories than you consume you will gain weight. Read, “Bad Eating Habits that Cause Weight Gain.”
“I was sedentary for a long time and gained another fifty pounds.” Sedentary behavior (particularly watching television) can lead to sedentary snacking. Eating food while watching TV causes people to eat more calories, especially calories from fat.
“…it became much easier to grab a quick ‘something’ instead of sitting down to a proper/healthy meal.” Time pressures from school, work, and other obligations can cause people to eat on the run or not get enough sleep. Both have been shown to contribute to weight gain. Read, “Healthy Chain Restaurant Meals.”
“Low self-esteem. Possibly some depression…” Not only can depression contribute to obesity, but some medications for treating depression can cause weight gain as well. SSRIs often promote weight loss initially, but within six months of treatment many people report weight gain.
Read all of the community responses on BariatricPal.
Science Shows Why People Become Obese
“Bad genes.” Blaming our girth on our genes may sound like a convenient excuse. But researchers at Harvard Medical School claim genealogy can be a factor in why we become obese. In fact, more than 400 different genes have been identified as contributing to weight gain or obesity — although the researchers say only a few have any significant influence.
Genes contribute our becoming obese in a number of ways. For example, our genes affect our appetite, satiety (the sense of fullness), metabolism, food cravings, body-fat distribution — even the tendency to use eating as a way to cope with stress!
The role of genetics in weight gain and obesity among individuals varies quite a bit. Predisposition for weight gain can be as low as 25% or as high as 70-80% depending on certain characteristics.
“Poor gut health.” Intestinal bacteria are now recognized as playing a role in whether we are lean or obese. These billions of microbes reside in our intestines and help to break down tough plant fibers. Now according to Scientific American, new evidence indicates that gut bacteria alter the way we store fat, how we balance levels of glucose in the blood, and how we respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full.
An improper mix of microbes can lay the foundation for obesity and diabetes starting at birth. Read, “Trust Your Gut, Bacteria and Weight Gain.”
“Decreased activity level.” A tracking of three retired notable athletes shows weight gains of 28, 25, and 70 pounds respectively. All three are among the best in their professions. How then did so many turn lean and mean into obese?
For many, weight gain and retirement go hand in hand. That eight-hour per day energy burn that happens in the workplace can quickly become history. In a blink, slim and trim men and women become soft in the middle or even obese, and some retirees find they have grown unexpectedly tight around the waist band. Read, “Losing Weight after Turning 40.”
If the most fit among us experience dramatic weight gain or cross the line into obesity, we might wonder how that happened. If the most physically fit among us can turn obese, surely we can as well. Check out our complete library of Get Fit articles to stay ever vigilant against weight gain!
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life