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  • Lifestyle and Genetics – the Two Main Causes of Obesity

    Posted on May 1, 2016 @ 12:26 am

    It is estimated that some 30% of Americans are no obese. Not just overweight, but obese. Also, some $147 billion per year is spent in this country on obesity, including on bariatric procedures and on health care provided due to comorbid conditions. Most of us assume that someone who is obese simply eats too much. While this is true, the reality is that obesity is actually caused by lifestyle, as well as by genetics. Let’s explore.


    We know that people who eat an unhealthy diet and lead a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to become obese. In fact, we know this is the main cause. Usually, this is a condition known as ‘creeping obesity’, which means people get heavier and heavier over time. It is also a negative cycle, as people who become obese start to move less, meaning they put more weight on, move even less, and so on.


    The biggest risk to obesity is simple math: eating more calories than what you burn. However, there are some people who have a predisposition towards becoming obese. These people are more likely to consumer a higher amount of calories than others. Additionally, if they want to maintain a certain level of weight, they must consume fewer calories than the average person.

    People who are obese often also have higher natural insulin levels, which means that their bodies find it easier to store fat. This leads to insulin obesity, which is now accepted as the most common reason for genetically-related obesity. Having high levels of insulin is also psychologically linked to overeating. If someone has too much insulin in their bloodstream, they feel hungrier. Furthermore, they will find that sweet food tastes even nicer. But, the more sugar they eat, the more likely it is that they turn their cells into fat, meaning they become overweight. Once they lose weight, the fat cells don’t disappear, they shrink. These cells then feel starved, sending messages to the brain encouraging the individual to eat more.

    What it Means

    Clearly, obesity is down to two certain things. Yes, it is by and large caused by poor lifestyle choices, but there are clear situations in which those ‘choices’ aren’t really choices. What researchers are now looking into is whether the genetic factors are new, or whether people who became obese in past generations due to lifestyle alone have altered their genes, and passed this on to their children. This would explain the tremendous rise in obesity among not just adults, but children as well. Either way, denying the role genetics play in obesity is a big mistake.

    There is a clear link between genetics and obesity, but we must also not forget the final piece of the puzzle: our consumerist society. We live in a world with an abundance of food, and in one where junk food manufacturers spend millions convincing us to purchase their products. While we have a ‘choice’ about whether or not to eat these products, you must be incredibly strong willed to make the right choice in this situation.

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    One Response to “Lifestyle and Genetics – the Two Main Causes of Obesity”

    1. Heisann, happy Sunday to you, Laura. Here Summer has come….. how long will it last??? ;:OD)
      Bjørg Nina Andersen Lia´s last blog post ..Lykke for oss som har levd noen år, er

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