5 Top Reasons You Are Overweight

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Obesity has become somewhat of an epidemic in recent years – not just in the United States, where it is most prevalent, but also in other first world and even third world countries. An excess of food might not always be the reason though – especially considering that 62 percent of the world’s obese population lives in developing countries and some of those same countries struggle with malnutrition as well. How can a person not be eating enough to get their nutrients but still be overweight at the same time?

The obesity rates have been on a steady incline since the 1980s and the rates are calculated according to Body Mass Index (BMI) which is the ratio of fat to body size. BMI indicators have their own downfalls, but they are mostly accurate and a good descriptor of a person’s fat ratio. Since 1980, the number of people considered overweight or obese according to their BMI has increased from 857 million to 2.1 billion.

It’s also a fact that in rich countries, such as the United States, men tend to be more overweight and in developing countries women tend to have a higher BMI. Children and adolescents in developing countries also have high rates of obesity. The major percentage of the world’s obesity population is concentrated in ten countries: United States, China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, and Indonesia. Take into account though that China and India have the world’s largest populations thus their number a bit skewed – for instance, only about four percent of China’s population is overweight, compared to the United States’ 32 percent.

So what exactly is causing all of this increase in BMI across the whole of the world’s population? It may seem easy to blame food excess, but in reality it is much more complicated than that – otherwise malnutritioned countries wouldn’t have high rates of obesity. If you are curious to find out some of the reasons for being overweight, read on for a list of what else could be causing this pandemic.


1. Genetics

You know those people that can eat a whole tub of cream and still not gain an ounce? Not that their diet is sustainable long-term, but their current lack of weight gain might have something to do with their genetic makeup. Some people are more predisponed than others to gain or not gain weight. Two different people can sit down to the same exact meal and one can gain weight from it while the other doesn’t. Currently, there have been about 400 different genes identified that seem to play a role in our weight gain and distribution and they can be responsible for as much as 80% of your weight changes throughout your life. Those greatly influenced by their genes when it comes to weight usually are overweight all of their lives, they have many relatives that are overweight, and they can’t seem to lose weight even when they follow strict regiments.

Another way that genetics can influence us is due to what scientists call ‘thrifty genes.’ These genes played a part in ancient times when humans had to hunt and gather their food and they had periods of starvation or low food. The thrifty genes determined which people were able to store fat and thus survive and which weren’t. Those with ‘thrifty genes’ survived by being able to store fat longer in their bodies. Since their counterparts without the gene usually died out, as many as 80% of the population now carries the ‘thrifty gene.’ In modern times though, when food is abundant and there are rarely starvation periods, this gene is now working against the human body.


2. Fetal Programming

Your weight gain might not even be due to anything you do or don’t do – in fact, it might be due to how you ‘lived’ in your mother’s womb and shortly after birth. Fetal programming are what researches call in-utero exposures of the baby to certain factors – the mother smoking, for instance, can predispose her baby to a life of being overweight. Also mothers that have diabetes or other weight issues due to a disease or illness have a higher chance of passing that on to their children in the form of them being overweight. After birth, babies that are breast-fed up to at least three months are also less likely to develop obesity later in their lives, as compared to babies that are not breast-fed at least three months or on formula from the start.


3. Stress Related Obesity

In the modern world of go-go-go, stress is now quite prevalent no matter where you live or go. It is common to work long hours now and always be rushing through tasks, which includes eating meals as well, meaning that most families have less time to sit and prepare healthy meals together and instead opt for unhealthy meals such as pizza and take-out. But stress doesn’t just impact mealtime and healthy meal options – stress also impact sleep and relaxation. Opting out of sleep due to stress from other obligations, such as long work hours, leads to more stress on our bodies as it is now lacking sleep as well. This tricks our bodies into thinking that we’re in a stressful environment where food might not be prevalent and thus it starts storing all the calories we eat as fat. We also tend to eat more when stressed, anxious or depressed and thus the cycle continues.


4. Sedentary Lifestyle

It wasn’t that long ago that a sedentary lifestyle was not even possible – most people had farms, animals, and stores to take care of and even when they did relax it was for short periods of time and not in front of a television. Although many health agencies call for moderate to vigorous exercise every day, less than 25% of Americans actually meet that requirement. Daily activity was also more prevalent simply because not everything was as convenient to get to – daily walks included going to the grocery store or walking to and from school or work. Even horseback riding is more of an activity than we get now driving our cars to work. Daily chores are also made much easier with the invention of a number of appliances such as dishwashers, laundry machines, vacuums, leaf blowers and others.

As if mostly sitting all day wasn’t enough either, we also indulge in what’s known as ‘sedentary snacking.’ Sitting in front of a television inevitably makes us restless and thus we overcome that by occupying our hands with something. Unfortunately, that something usually ends up being the motion of going from the food bowl into our mouths.


5. Food, Too

As much as we may not want it too, food also plays a large role in our current obesity epidemic. Americans are eating an average of 200 calories more per day than they did in the 1970s and it is largely due to the increase of food availability, high-calorie foods, and larger portions. Portions have gotten bigger and bigger in recent years and ‘super-sized’ options are quite the norm. Unfortunately, this still isn’t a cut-and-dry issue – otherwise, malnutritioned countries wouldn’t have obesity epidemics. Another reason food is to blame is because of the rise of processed foods available in our diet options. High calorie, sugary, salty foods have overtaken healthy vegetables and fruits and even natural meat options. More and more people are opting for soda instead of water, eating food processed and boxed that’s been packed full of chemicals and synthetic flavors to make it taste better. Not only has this destroyed our taste buds, but it has created a norm where children opting for pizza and chips is very much accepted and children choosing carrots and apples for seen as ‘weird’ and ‘health obsessed’ by their peers.

The obesity epidemic and bigger and worse than any one person thinks it is. While food has become a common place sight and we no longer have to hunt for it, humans have also eaten themselves into a corner when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Being overweight can create an environment in your body that fosters disease and illnesses and there’s no better time than now to change that.