Weight Gain Risk Factors
There are a number of risk factors associated with weight gain, overweight, and obesity. Generally, weight gain and obesity are caused by a combination of:
Genetics – Peoples’ inherited genes affect how their body burns and stores fat, but genetic predisposition to weight gain can usually be overcome with appropriate dietary intervention and healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Family Lifestyle – Upbringing can be a factor in becoming overweight or obese, as many family members have the same eating and exercise habits. An individual who has one or more overweight or obese parents is more likely to become overweight themselves. It is often helpful to assess family behaviors that may need to be adjusted to enable an individual to become successful in weight management.
Inactivity – Physical activity provides an enormous metabolic advantage for weight management that exceeds the usual understanding of “just burning calories”. Individuals who are inactive are more likely to experience problems with appetite control, have a slower metabolic rate, leading to weight gain. A physically active lifestyle offers a number of metabolic benefits that promote maintenance of a healthy weight as well as a reduction in risk for developing a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, or even cancer.
Poor Nutrition & Unhealthy Eating Habits – Eating calorie-dense foods which lack nutrients—such as many fast foods—avoiding fruits of vegetables, skipping meals, excessive snacking, drinking high-calorie, sugar-laden beverages, and eating oversized portions are all contributors to weight gain.
Quitting Smoking – People who smoke tobacco products and who quit smoking are at risk for gaining weight. Nonetheless, the detrimental effects of smoking on health far exceeds the risk of moderate weight gain caused by smoking cessation. It remains prudent to quit smoking in the pursuit of improved overall health. A healthy diet matched with calorie and nutrient requirements as well as increased physical activity can help to prevent weight gain when you stop smoking.
Pregnancy – Metabolic and hormonal changes during pregnancy can contribute to excessive weight gain. Some women find it difficult to lose excess weight after giving birth which can contribute to becoming overweight or even develop into obesity.
Lack of Sleep – Insufficient sleep can cause metabolic and hormonal changes that can lead to increased appetite – often for high-calorie or high-carbohydrate foods. Appetite regulatory problems and dietary changes associated with poor sleep habits can, in turn, contribute to weight gain.
Some Medications – Certain antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotics, steroids, and beta-blockers are known to contribute to problems with appetite regulation as well as weight gain unless taken with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Age – As people age, hormonal changes, reduced activity levels, and diminishing muscle mass can all lead to a slower metabolism and lower daily energy requirements, promoting weight gain. Age-related changes can be compensated for with increased physical activity and maintaining an adequate nutrient intake through adopting a healthy, balanced diet.
Social and Economic Issues – It is often true that eating a healthy, balanced, whole-food diet can seem to be more expensive than eating a poor quality diet composed of calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods. Also, associating frequently with overweight or obese friends and family members can increase the likelihood of an individual becoming overweight or obese.
Medical Problems – There are many medical problems and conditions which lead to decreased activity levels, promoting weight gain, but there are also certain medical causes of obesity, including Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing’s, and others.