What are Common Risk Factors for Obesity?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2018
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Knowing the risk factors for obesity not only makes it easier to prevent weight gain, but also allows an already obese person to identify and modify the aspects of his or her life that have been contributing to the excess weight gain. The most common risk factors for obesity are thought to be a sedentary lifestyle combined with a high calorie diet, although other things, such as genetics, how a person was raised, and a family history of obesity can also play a part. Additionally, life stressors, age, and financial status can make a huge impact on weight.

Clearly, the impact that eating too much and not exercising enough has on the body can dramatically affect a person's weight. When the body receives energy, in the form of calories from food, into the body, it stores the energy to be used for later. If the calories are never expended through physical activity, the energy stores, in the form of fat, keep getting larger and larger. Most doctors recommend eating fewer calories and exercising more often as a primary effort toward reducing these fat deposits


A person's family history is one of the most significant risk factors for obesity for a number of reasons. First, genetics is believed to play a role in everything from how efficiently the body extracts energy from food, to how many calories are burned through metabolic processes, to where on the body the fat deposits are stored. Secondly, the upbringing that the family provides for a child forms the lifestyle habits and education a person will carry with them for the rest of his or her life. If a child is brought up in a household where a healthy diet is encouraged and family pastimes include plenty of physical activities, that child is much more likely to carry those healthy habits with him into adulthood than a child who was raised on fast food and television. The family's economic status can also play a large role, because it is often cheaper to purchase unhealthy processed foods than it is to buy produce or other unprocessed foods and gain access to a place in which to exercise.

Certain life stressors are also large risk factors for obesity. Not getting enough sleep, working at a stressful job, and quitting smoking are all examples of things that tend to lead to obesity. Depression and the medications used to treat it cause many people to gain weight. Older individuals also tend to have slower metabolisms and store excess fat more easily.



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