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Causes of obesity

In the majority of cases, the cause of obesity is simply that more fuel (calories) is being taken in to the body than is being burned up or used. This is not something that happens quickly but over a period of time and it is this that determines our weight. The odd splurge of an excessive consumption of calories is fine as long as the normal routine is generally equal to the amount of calories required.

For you to maintain a healthy weight, energy IN (calories consumed) needs to equal energy OUT (burned up calories from activities).

Energy in refers to the calories consumed through all food and drink.

Energy out refers to all of the calories burned from doing everyday things like breathing, digesting and being physically active.

It seems unfair that our colleagues are able to eat much more than we do and yet they always seem to remain at the same weight. This may be due to a more active lifestyle. Perhaps they go to a gym every night after work or go jogging. If their energy expenditure equals or exceeds their calorie intake, then they will stay the same or lose weight. We all have a different rate at which we burn up our energy stores due to differing metabolisms.

In the Arab Countries, a lot of households are able to employ a housemaid; therefore daily chores are no longer done by the employer and this may result in further inactivity or weight gain.

It could be an influencing factor that the park is not within walking distance or living in a high rise apartment means using the lift instead of the stairs. In a hot climate, for comfort we choose to go everywhere by car as it is too hot to walk, even the shortest distances. Also, not all people are able to drive, so this may limit activities.

There are many cultural influences that affect individuals and they have a very big impact on lifestyle.

People may choose to stay indoors and watch television because it is too hot to go outside or may decide to go to the cinema and purchase food/drinks.

Genes and Family History
Studies of identical twins that have been raised apart, show that genes have a strong influence on a person's weight. Being overweight or obese tends to run in families. Your chances of being overweight are greater if one or both of your parents are overweight or obese.

Your genes also may affect the amount of fat you store in your body and where on your body you carry the extra fat. Because families also share food and physical activity habits, a link exists between genes and the environment.

Children adopt the habits of their parents. A child who has overweight parents who eat high-calorie foods and are inactive will likely become overweight too. However, if the family adopts healthy food and physical activity habits, the child's chance of being overweight or obese is reduced.

Influences on determining our weight include:
Genetic Factors: Recent research suggests that on the average person, the genetic influence contributes to about 33 percent of body weight but the contribution may be more or less in a particular person.

Socioeconomic Factors: It is known that obesity is more than twice as common in lower socioeconomic groups as in the higher ones. It is suggested that people in higher socioeconomic groups have more time and resources for dieting and exercise.

Psychological Factors: Emotional disturbances are considered to play a large part. A negative body image is a serious problem for many as it leads to extreme self consciousness and discomfort in social situations.

Severe obesity is most likely a result of a combination of genetic, psychosocial, environmental, social and cultural influences that interact resulting in the complex disorder of both appetite regulation and energy metabolism. Severe obesity does not appear to be a simple lack of self-control by the patient

Health Conditions
There are some conditions that affect weight. For example, an underactive thyroid gland or Hypothyroidism may cause weight gain. This is due to a lack of thyroid hormone which slows down the metabolism. Cushing’s syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome may also result in weight gain.

Some medicines may cause you to gain weight. One example of this is prednisolone or steroids. These can increase your appetite and consequently your calorie intake. Steroids tend to slow down your metabolism or the rate at which you burn food. This is also true for some anti depressants and anti seizure medication.

When some people are feeling emotional or depressed, sometimes this can lead to seeking solice in food items. Consuming calories in excess is sometimes known as comfort eating and a lot of people turn to food in order to satisfy their need. Often when younger, we are rewarded with food when things aren’t going so well. We learn to identify sadness with a time to eat and believe that this will make things better. We come to realize that this is obviously not how we can recover our mood in the long run. In fact this cycle will subsequently worsen our feelings when the realization hits that yet more weight has been gained and more health issues become apparent.

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