- Insulin Resistance
- Hormonal Factors
- Genetic Factors
- Micronutrient Deficiencies
- Energy Imbalance
Does my body shape matter?
You should be concerned not only with how much body fat a person has, but where the fat is located on the body.
Although not all, in general women tend to collect fat in their hips and buttocks, giving them a “pear” shape.
Apple versus Pear shape
Men usually build up fat around their bellies, giving them more of an “apple” shape. Of course, some men are pear-shaped and some women are apple-shaped, due to insulin resistance or after menopause.
Metabolic Syndrome / Insulin Resistance
Extra fat around your midsection may put you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems—even if you have a normal weight. Your provider can help you assess your risk.
Your genes, the world around you, and other factors may all affect weight gain. Learn how to address these factors in the section “How can I improve my health?”
Family and the genes
Research shows that obesity tends to run in families, suggesting that genes may contribute to obesity. Families also share diet and lifestyle habits that may affect weight. However, it is possible to manage your weight even if obesity is common in your family.
The Environment and weight gain
Where people live, play, and work may also strongly affect their weight. Consider the fact that obesity rates were lower 30 years ago. Since that time, our genetic make-up hasn’t changed, but our world has.
The world around us affects access to healthy foods and places to walk and be active in many ways:
Many people drive rather than walk.
Where you live and weight gain
Living in areas without sidewalks or safe places to exercise may make it tough to be more active.
Many people eat out or get takeout instead of cooking, which may lead to eating more calories.
Most vending machines do not offer low-calorie, low-fat snacks.
Income and Weight Gain
Overweight and obesity affect people in all income ranges. But people who live in low-income areas may face even greater barriers to eating healthy foods and being active than other people. High-calorie processed foods often cost less than healthier options, such as fruits and vegetables. There also may be few safe, free, or low-cost places nearby to be active on a regular basis. These factors may contribute to weight gain.
A person’s culture may also affect weight:
Some cultures have foods with a lot of fat or sugar, making it hard to manage weight.
Family events at which people eat large amounts of food may make it tough to control portions.
Sleep Related Factors
Research suggests that lack of sleep is linked to overweight and obesity. Recent studies have found that sleeping less may make it harder to lose weight. In these studies, adults who were trying to lose weight and who slept less ate more calories and snacked more.
Certain drugs may cause weight gain. Steroids and some drugs to treat depression or other mental health problems may make you burn calories more slowly or feel hungry. Be sure your health care provider knows all the medicines you are taking (including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements). He or she may suggest another medicine that has less effect on weight.
Effects of excess weight
Weighing too much may increase the risk for several health problems. It also may contribute to emotional and social problems.
Health Risks of Obesity
Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, and certain cancers are some of the diseases linked to excess weight. Obese men are more likely than other men to develop cancer of the colon, rectum, or prostate. Obese women are more likely than other women to develop cancer of the breast (after menopause), gallbladder, uterus, or cervix. Cancer of the esophagus (the tube that carries food and liquids to the stomach) may also be linked to obesity.
Other obesity related medical conditions
- breathing problems, including sleep apnea
- fatty liver disease (also called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH)
- gallbladder disease and gallstones
- pregnancy problems, such as gestational diabetes (high blood sugar during pregnancy), high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean section (C-section)
- Emotional and Social Effects
Emotional Problems and Obesity
Excess weight may also contribute to emotional suffering. Physical beauty and how a person looks are highly valued in society. People who may not fit society’s view of beauty because of their weight may be seen as less attractive.
Blame the victim mentality
Some people tend to “blame the victim” for obesity and think obese people eat too much and lack will power. Although it is not true, unfortunately, some people in our culture may view a person with obesity as lacking willpower, people with obesity may face limited options in the job market, at school, and in social situations. They may feel rejected, ashamed, or depressed.