What Is The Real Cause Of Weight Gain?

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Why do people gain weight?

Why do people gain weight?

Everyone knows someone who can eat ice cream, cake, and whatever else they want without gaining weight. People who seem to gain weight no matter how little they eat are at the other end of the spectrum. Why? What are the underlying causes of obesity? What enables one person to remain thin without effort, while requiring another to struggle to avoid gaining weight or regaining the pounds lost previously?

On the most basic level, your weight is determined by the number of calories you consume, the number of calories you store, and the number of calories you burn. However, each of these variables is influenced by a combination of genes and environment. Both can have an impact on your physiology (such as how quickly you burn calories) as well as your behavior (the types of foods you choose to eat, for instance). The interaction of all of these factors begins at conception and continues throughout your life.

The calorie formula

Your genetic make-up, level of physical activity, and resting energy expenditure all influence the balance of calories stored and burned (the number of calories your body burns while at rest). You will maintain your weight if you consistently burn all of the calories that you consume in a day. You will gain weight if you consume more energy (calories) than you expend.

Excess calories are stored as fat throughout your body. Your body stores this fat in specialized fat cells (adipose tissue), either by enlarging fat cells that are always present in the body or by producing more of them. Your body will reduce some of your fat stores if you reduce your food intake and consume fewer calories than you burn up, or if you exercise more and burn up more calories. Fat cells shrink as a result, as does your waistline.

Genetic factors

Over 400 different genes have been implicated in the causes of overweight or obesity to date, but only a few appear to be major players. Genes influence the causes of obesity in a variety of ways, including appetite, satiety (the feeling of fullness), metabolism, food cravings, body-fat distribution, and the proclivity to use food to cope with stress.

The strength of the genetic influence on weight disorders varies greatly between individuals. According to research, genes account for only 25% of the predisposition to be overweight in some people, while for others, the genetic influence is as high as 70% to 80%. Knowing how much of a role genes play in your weight may be useful in treating your weight problems.

How much of your weight is determined by your genes?

If you have most or all of the following characteristics, your genes are most likely a significant contributor to your obesity.

  • You've been overweight for a long time.
  • One or both of your parents, as well as several other blood relatives, are severely overweight. If both of your parents are obese, your chances of becoming obese are as high as 80%.
  • Even if you increase your physical activity and follow a low-calorie diet for several months, you will not lose weight.

If you have most or all of the following characteristics, your genes are most likely a minor contributor.

  • The availability of food has a strong influence on you.
  • You are moderately overweight, but you can lose weight if you stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine.
  • You regain weight during the holiday season, after changing your eating or exercise habits, or when you are dealing with psychological or social issues.

These facts indicate that you have a genetic predisposition to being overweight, but it isn't so severe that you can't overcome it with some effort.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can assume that your genetic predisposition to obesity is minor if your weight is normal and does not increase even when you eat high-calorie foods on a regular basis and rarely exercise.

People with only a moderate genetic proclivity for obesity have a good chance of losing weight on their own by eating fewer calories and engaging in more vigorous exercise on a regular basis. These people are more likely to be able to keep their weight loss going.

What exactly are thrifty genes?

How did our forefathers survive when the prey escaped or the crops failed? Those who could store body fat to live off of during lean times survived, while those who couldn't die. This evolutionary adaptation explains why most modern humans — roughly 85 percent of us — have so-called thrifty genes, which aid in energy conservation and fat storage. Of course, these frugal genes are now a curse rather than a blessing. Not only is food available to us nearly 24 hours a day, but we don't even have to hunt or harvest it!

People with a strong genetic predisposition to obesity, on the other hand, may be unable to lose weight using traditional forms of diet and exercise therapy. Even if they lose weight, they are less likely to keep it off. Pure willpower is ineffective in combating the tendency to be overweight in people who have a strong genetic predisposition. These people are usually only able to maintain their weight loss with the help of a doctor. They are also more likely to require weight-loss medications or surgery.

Obesity among adults in the United States has been on the rise since the 1970s. Such a rapid rise cannot be explained solely by genes. Although the genetic proclivity to be overweight varies greatly from person to person, the rise in BMI appears to be nearly universal, affecting all demographic groups. These findings highlight the significance of environmental changes that contribute to the overweight and obesity epidemic.

Obesity has environmental causes.

Genetic factors are internal forces that help you gain and maintain your weight; environmental factors are external forces that contribute to these issues. They include anything in our environment that makes us more likely to overeat or exercise insufficiently. Experts believe that environmental factors are the driving force behind the causes of obesity and its dramatic rise.

Environmental factors begin to influence you even before you are born. These prenatal exposures are sometimes referred to as "fetal programming" by researchers. Babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to be overweight than those born to nonsmokers. The same is true for babies born to diabetic mothers. Researchers believe that these conditions may alter the developing baby's metabolism in ways that manifest later in life.

Babies who are breast-fed for more than three months after birth are less likely to be obese as adolescents than infants who are breast-fed for less than three months.

People's childhood habits often follow them for the rest of their lives. Children who consume sugary sodas and high-calorie, processed foods develop a taste for these products and continue to consume them as adults, which promotes weight gain. Similarly, children who watch television and play video games instead of participating in physical activities may be programming themselves for a sedentary future.

Many aspects of modern life contribute to weight gain. In a nutshell, today's "obesogenic" environment encourages us to eat more while exercising less. Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that broader aspects of our lifestyle, such as how much we sleep, our stress levels, and other psychological factors, can influence our weight.

One of the causes of obesity is the food factor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American consumes more calories than they did in the 1970s. Between 1971 and 2000, the average man consumed 168 calories more per day, while the average woman consumed 335 calories more per day. What is causing this trend? It's a combination of increased availability, larger portions, and more high-calorie foods, according to experts.

Food is available almost everywhere we go — shopping malls, sports stadiums, and movie theaters. Snacks and meals are available at roadside rest stops, 24-hour convenience stores, and even gyms and health clubs. Americans are spending far more money on foods consumed outside the home: We spent 27 percent of our food budget on out-of-home food in 1970; by 2006, that figure had risen to 46 percent.

Fast-food restaurants only served one portion size in the 1950s. Portion sizes have exploded in recent years, a trend that has spread to a variety of foods ranging from cookies and popcorn to sandwiches and steaks. A typical McDonald's serving of French fries contains three times the calories it did when the company first started. A single "super-sized" meal may contain 1,500–2,000 calories — all the calories that the majority of people require for the day. And studies show that even if they're already full, people will eat what's in front of them.

 Not surprisingly, we're eating more high-calorie foods (especially salty snacks, soft drinks, and pizza), which are much easier to find than lower-calorie options like salads and whole fruits. Fat isn't always a bad thing; in fact, research shows that the fat content of our diet has actually decreased since the early 1980s.  However, many low-fat foods are very high in calories because they contain a lot of sugar to make them taste and look better. In fact, many low-fat foods are higher in calories than non-low-fat foods.

The exercise formula

The current government exercise recommendations call for an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. However, only about a quarter of all Americans meet that standard.

Our daily lives do not provide many opportunities for physical activity. Children do not exercise as much at school, which is often due to reductions in physical education classes. Many people drive to work and spend the majority of the day at a computer terminal. We struggle to find time to go to the gym, play sports, or exercise in other ways because we work long hours.

Instead of walking to local shops and carrying shopping bags, we drive to one-stop megastores, park near the entrance, load our purchases into a shopping cart, and drive home. The widespread use of vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, leaf blowers, and a variety of other appliances eliminates nearly all physical effort from daily chores and may contribute to obesity as one of the causes.

The issue with television: sedentary snacking

The average American watches about four hours of television per day, a habit that has been linked to being overweight or obese in several studies. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a long-term study of American adults' health, revealed that people who are overweight or obese spend more time watching television and playing video games than people who are normal weight. Overwatching television for more than two hours per day also increases the risk of childhood obesity, even in children as young as three years old.

Part of the problem could be that people are watching television instead of exercising or engaging in other calorie-burning activities (watching TV burns only slightly more calories than sleeping, and less than other sedentary pursuits such as sewing or reading). However, food advertisements may also play a significant role. The average hour-long television show contains about 11 food and beverage commercials that encourage people to eat. Furthermore, studies show that eating in front of the television encourages people to consume more calories, particularly fat calories.

In fact, one study found that limiting the amount of TV kids watched helped them lose weight — but not because they became more active when they weren't watching TV. The difference was that when the children were watching television, they ate more snacks than when they were doing other, even sedentary, activities.

Stress and related problems

Obesity experts now believe that a variety of aspects of American society may be working together to promote weight gain. Stress is a common thread that connects these elements. For example, it's common these days to work long hours and take shorter or less frequent vacations. In many families, both parents work, making it difficult for families to find time to shop for, prepare, and eat healthy foods together. Round-the-clock Child abductions and random violent acts are becoming more common in the news. This does more than just raise stress levels; it also makes parents less likely to let their children ride their bikes to the park to play.

Parents end up driving their children to play dates and structured activities, resulting in less activity for the children and more stress for the parents. Time constraints whether for school, work, or family obligations frequently lead to people eating on the run and skipping sleep, both of which can contribute to weight gain.

Some researchers believe that the act of eating irregularly and on the go is also one of the causes of obesity. Neurological evidence suggests that the brain's biological clock the pacemaker that regulates many other daily rhythms in our bodies may also aid in the regulation of hunger and satiety signals. These signals should, ideally, keep our weight stable.

They should remind us to eat when our body fat falls below a certain level or when we require more body fat (during pregnancy, for example), and they should notify us when we are full and should stop eating. Close connections between the brain's pacemaker and the appetite control center in the hypothalamus suggest that temporal cues influence hunger and satiety. Irregular eating patterns may interfere with the effectiveness of these cues, promoting obesity.

Similarly, studies show that the less sleep you get, the more likely you are to gain weight. Inadequate sleep disrupts hormones that control hunger and appetite, which could be one of the causes of obesity. Researchers discovered that people who slept less than eight hours a night had higher levels of body fat than those who slept more, and those who slept the fewest hours weighed the most in a 2004 study of over 1,000 volunteers.

Stress and a lack of sleep are linked to psychological well-being, which can affect diet and appetite, as anyone who has ever binged on cookies or potato chips when feeling anxious or sad can attest. According to research, some people eat more when they are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other emotional disorders. Overweight and obesity, in turn, can contribute to emotional disorders: If you repeatedly try and fail to lose weight, or if you succeed only to gain it all back, the struggle can cause tremendous frustration over time, which can cause or worsen anxiety and depression. A cycle develops that leads to increasing obesity, which is accompanied by increasingly severe emotional difficulties.

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