Unintentional weight gain can be seriously frustrating. Although you try to have a balanced diet, you still can’t figure out why you keep packing on the pounds. It’s true that diet plays a crucial role in gaining weight, but there are many other factors that you need to consider.
The weight gain pandemic
We, as a culture, are obsessed with our weight. Simply take a look at the range and volume of products available today to gain or lose weight. And with good reason. According to a 2017 study, over 2 billion adults & children suffer from being obese and overweight.
Here are some other key facts based on WHO global estimates:
- Obesity has tripled worldwide since 1975.
- In 2016, 650 million adults were found to be obese, among 1.9 billion adults who were overweight.
- In 2016, 13% of the global adult population, with 15% of women & 11% of men, were obese.
- In the same year, around 41 million children, below the age of 5, were obese and overweight.
- Around 39% of adults, with 40% of women & 39% of men, were overweight in 2016.
Is there a weight stigma? Read Weight Bias in Healthcare: The Truth About Obesity
Obesity is undoubtedly one of the largest health problems today across the world. Weight issues can lead to a lot of health conditions like poor blood lipid profile, elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure, higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes etc.
With over 2 in 3 adults being considered obese or overweight, managing our weight might not be as easy as eating less & exercising more. All of us are unique and have different physiologies. Hence, our bodies respond to food and exercise in completely different ways. For a few of us, weight gain can be a result of illnesses & medications, for others it may be diet and lack of exercise, while for most others it may be a combination of different factors.
Causes of unintentional weight gain
Gaining weight is a complex process. Most of us tend to believe that obesity and being overweight is a result of excessive eating, laziness, poor lifestyle choices and a lack of exercise. However, it is not necessarily true.
Here are some scientific reasons why you may be gaining weight unintentionally and becoming obese.
Although, factors like poor diet and lifestyle may greatly contribute to gaining excess weight, some of us are simply unable to to deliberately control our eating habits. Overeating can be caused by a number of biological factors like hormones and genetics leading to being overweight.
Don’t want to be overweight? Read 9 Proven Ways To Stabilize The Hormones That Cause Weight Gain
A 2013 study by the New York Academy of Sciences, has found that genetics play a significant role in obesity. The research revealed, “Accumulating evidence has strongly implicated a genetic component playing an important role in the risk of becoming obese.”
Evidence also shows that epigenetics are a determining factor in obesity as it causes weight issues from early life experiences. The paper stated “Genetic variants, which confer susceptibility to obesity-related morbidities like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, were also discovered recently.”
According to a Harvard Health article, your genes can be a prominent cause of your obesity and weight issues, if you possess these characteristics:
- Throughout your entire life, you have struggled with obesity and being overweight.
- Your parents and/or relatives are generally overweight. In fact, if both your parents are obese, then it is 80% likely that you will be obsese as well.
- You’re unable to lose weight even when you exercise regularly and follow a low-calorie diet in the long run.
Although genetic factors do not guarantee that you will be obese, it does increase your risk of being overweight than others. A 2011 study by clinical scientist Sadaf Farooqi, professor of Metabolism & Medicine at the University of Cambridge, discovered evidence that “genetic variation plays a major role in determining the susceptibility to weight gain”, even though environmental factors have also greatly contributed to gaining weight recently.
According to a Harvard Medical School publication, “On a very simple level, your weight depends on the number of calories you consume, how many of those calories you store, and how many you burn up. But each of these factors is influenced by a combination of genes and environment.” The researchers found that the volume of calories stored in & burned by our bodies largely depends on the level of our physical activity, our genetic makeup and our resting energy expenditure, that is, how much calories our bodies burn when at rest. So if we consume more calories than we expend, we will become overweight.