Causes of Obesity Can Be Inherited or Lifestyle Related

There are many potential causes of obesity. Obesity is a complex medical condition, and is seldom the result of just one issue. On a simple level, people become overweight or obese when they take in more energy (calories) than they expend. If a person regularly consumes more calories than their body needs, he or she will gradually gain weight.

Many different factors can influence a person’s energy balance. For instance:

  • People who are physically active typically need more calories than people who do not exercise.
  • Pregnant women need to consume additional calories to provide energy for the growing fetus.
  • People tend to lose muscle mass as they get older. Because muscle loss can slow down the rate at which the body burns calories, older adults often need to consume fewer calories to maintain their weight.

How much a person eats – and how active he or she is – can be influenced by factors such as stress, family traditions, emotions, and environment. A person’s weight can also be influenced by hormones, lack of sleep, and medications (antidepressants, steroids, antipsychotics, diabetes medications, and seizure medications can all cause a person to gain weight independent of his or her diet). One of the most widely recognized causes of obesity is genetics. Being overweight often runs in families; a person’s risk of being obese is much greater if one or more parent is also overweight.

While many different factors can influence a person’s weight, obesity does not develop overnight. Most people gradually gain weight over a period of months or years. Similarly, while most of the causes of obesity can be addressed through lifestyle changes, treating obesity and successfully losing excess weight often requires a long-term plan.

While the ultimate goal of obesity treatment is to help the patient return to a healthy weight, consideration must be given to the underlying causes of obesity in order to produce meaningful results. In addition to dietary counseling, physical activity, and – if necessary – surgical intervention, patients must commit to lifestyle changes and may benefit from psychological support as well.

Our specialists take a comprehensive approach to treating obesity. Our team helps patients address the medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and emotional factors that led to their weight gain. We offer an integrated range of resources in a single, convenient location, including comprehensive wellness assessments, non-surgical weight loss programs, bariatric surgeries, and long-term support.

To learn more about the causes of obesity or to schedule an appointment with TGH + USF Health Bariatric Center call (813) 844-7473 or email bariatriccenter@tgh.org.