Obesity Causes, Prevention, Symptoms & Treatment


Obesity is a condition marked by an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity is more than just a cosmetic problem. It is a medical condition that increases the risk of a number of diseases and ailments, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and several cancers.

There are several reasons why some people find it difficult to lose weight.

 Exercise, physical activity, and nutritional components, as well as environmental, physiological, and behavioral factors, are frequently involved in the development of obesity.

The good news is that even a little weight loss can assist or perhaps prevent the health problems associated with obesity. You may lose weight by making changes to your routines, increasing your activity, and choosing healthier meals. Additional alternatives for managing obesity include prescription drugs and weight-loss techniques.


Despite the fact that genetic, behavioral, metabolic, and hormonal variables all have a role in body weight, obesity develops when a person consumes more calories than they burn via regular daily activity and exercise. Your body turns these additional calories into fat.

The majority of people consume too many calories daily, frequently from fast food and high-calorie beverages. Obese individuals may consume more calories before feeling satisfied, experience hunger sooner, or consume more food in response to stress or worry.

Now because many occupations are far less physically demanding, people there do not tend to burn as many calories while working. Thanks to conveniences like remote controls, escalators, internet shopping, and drive-through banking, even ordinary tasks require fewer calories.

How to check if you have Obesity?

Ask your doctor about managing your obesity if you have concerns about your weight or health issues caused by it. Your doctor and you may go through your weight-loss alternatives and assess your health risks.

Risk Factors

Obesity often has a number of root causes and extenuating circumstances:

 Inheritance from family

The quantity and distribution of body fat that you store may be influenced by the genes that you inherited from your parents. Your body's ability to burn calories as you exercise, control your appetite, and turn food into energy may be influenced by your genes.

Typically, obesity runs in families. That is not merely a result of the genes they have in common. Families usually follow the same eating and exercise patterns.

Choices of a way of life

Poor diet choices.  Weight gain is facilitated by diets rich in calories, deficient in fruits and vegetables, abundant in fast food, and packed with high-calorie drinks and excessive servings.

Liquid calories. Particularly alcoholic calories enable people to eat a lot of food without feeling full. Other calorie-dense liquids, including sugary soft drinks, can significantly increase weight gain.

Inactivity. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it is simple to consume more calories every day than you burn off via exercise and daily chores. It is sedentary to stare at the computer, tablet, and phone screens. Spending a lot of time in front of a screen is strongly linked to weight gain.

Certain ailments and treatments

Obesity in certain individuals can be linked to a medical disease, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome, or another ailment. Medical conditions like arthritis, which can also lead to weight increase, may result in less activity.

Some medications may make you gain weight. These medicines include certain beta blockers, antipsychotics, diabetic medications, antiepileptics, antidepressants, and seizure treatments.

Economic and social problems

Economic and social variables are associated with obesity. If you do not have secure places to stroll or work out, avoiding obesity might be challenging. Similarly to this, you could not have had restricted access to healthy foods or been taught effective cooking methods. Additionally, the individuals you spend time with might affect your weight; having obese friends or family members increases your risk of becoming obese.


Obesity may strike anyone at any age, especially young children. However, as you age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase your chance of becoming obese. Your body tends to have less muscle as you age. In general, reduced muscle mass results in a decrease in metabolism. Additionally, these changes reduce calorie needs and can make it harder to lose weight. You are more likely to put on weight as you age if you do not carefully regulate what you eat and increase your physical activity.

Other elements

Pregnancy. It is normal to gain weight when pregnant. After the baby is delivered, some women find it difficult to reduce this weight. This weight increase might help women become obese in the future.

Giving up smoking. Giving up smoking is frequently linked to weight gain. Additionally, it could lead to some individuals gaining enough weight to qualify as obese. This occurs frequently when people utilize food to manage their smoking withdrawal. The health benefits of quitting smoking outweigh the health risks over time. You may avoid gaining weight after quitting smoking with the advice of your doctor.

Inadequate sleep. Sleep deprivation or oversleeping can alter hormones and make you feel hungry. Additionally, you might want meals that are heavy in calories and carbs, which can lead to weight gain.

Stress. Obesity may be influenced by a variety of extrinsic variables that impact mood and general well-being. When under stress, people frequently seek out higher-caloric foods.

Microbiome. What you consume influences bacteria, which may lead to weight gain or make it tougher to lose weight.

Even if you have one or more of these risk factors, obesity is not something you will necessarily undergo. The majority of risk factors may be lowered by altering your food, getting more exercise, and changing your behaviour.


The body mass index is widely used to determine obesity (BMI). Divide the result by the height in inches to calculate the BMI by multiplying the weight in pounds by 703.

BMI Weight status

Below 18.5- Underweight

18.5-24.9- Normal 

25.0-29.9- Overweight 

30.0 and higher- Obesity

A BMI of 23 or above may make Asians more prone to health problems.

The BMI offers a reliable assessment of body fat for the majority of people. BMI does not, however, directly measure body fat, therefore some persons, such as muscular athletes, may have a BMI that falls into the category of obesity despite having normal levels of body fat.

Many medical professionals also take a patient's waist measurement to aid in treatment planning. Women with a waist circumference above 35 inches and men with a waist circumference over 40 inches (102 cm) are more likely to have health problems associated with their weight (89 centimetres).


To reach and keep a healthy weight is the aim of treating obesity. This improves general health and lowers the likelihood of issues associated with fat.

You might need to work with a team of health experts, such as a nutritionist, behavioral therapist, or an obesity specialist, to understand and modify your eating and activity habits.

Typically, a little weight reduction of 5% to 10% of your overall weight is the initial therapy objective. So if you weigh 200 pounds (91 kilogrammes), losing 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9 kilogrammes) would be sufficient to start improving your health. The advantages are higher, though, the more weight you lose.

Every weight-loss regimen calls for modifications in your dietary patterns and a more active lifestyle. Your level of obesity, general health, and level of commitment to your weight-loss strategy will all influence the appropriate therapy options for you.

Diet modifications

To combat obesity, one must cut calories and adopt healthy eating practices. The safest approach to lose weight and the greatest way to keep it off permanently is believed to be gradual weight reduction over an extended period of time, even if you may initially drop weight rapidly.

There is no ideal diet for losing weight. Choose one that you think will work for you and has wholesome foods. Changing one's diet to combat obesity entails calorie reduction The secret to losing weight is to consume fewer calories. To begin, you must examine your intake to determine how many calories you typically consume and where you might cut back using your usual eating and drinking patterns. You and your doctor can decide how many calories you should consume daily to lose weight, although 1,200 to 1,500 for women and 1,500 to 1,800 for males is a normal range.

Reduced feeling of fullness. Some items, such as sweets, candies, fats, and processed meals, have a high-calorie content per serving. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, offer a greater serving size with fewer calories. You consume fewer calories, have fewer hunger pangs, and feel better about your meal when you eat larger amounts of items with fewer calories, all of which help you feel more content after eating.

Enhancing health choices. Increase your intake of plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to raise the overall standard of your diet. Include lean meats and other sources of lean protein such as beans, lentils, and soy. Try to eat fish twice a week if you enjoy it. Limit your intake of salt and sugar. Consume fats in moderation and make sure they come from sources that are good for your heart, such as olive, canola, and nut oils.

Limiting particular foods. Some diets include restrictions on a certain food category, like those heavy in fat or carbohydrates. Find out from your doctor which diets are successful and which could be beneficial for you. A certain method to eat more calories than you meant is to consume beverages with added sugar. Limiting or avoiding these beverages is recommended. 

Replacement meals. These programmes advise consuming healthy snacks and a third low-fat, low-calorie meal in addition to substituting one or two meals with their goods, such as low-calorie shakes or meal bars. This sort of diet can aid in weight loss in the short term. However, you will not learn how to modify your lifestyle with these diets. Consequently, you might need to keep up your diet if you want to keep the weight off.

Avoid using fast remedies. Fad diets that promise quick and simple weight reduction could attract you. However, the truth is that neither miraculous meals nor rapid solutions exist. Long-term outcomes do not seem much better than with other diets, but the short-term effects do.

Similarly to this, if you go on a crash diet, you could lose weight, but you will probably gain it back after you stop. You must establish good eating habits that you can uphold over time if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

Activity and exercise

An important component of treating obesity is increasing physical activity or exercise:

Exercise. For those who are obese, 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise is required to either maintain current weight reduction or to stop additional weight gain. As your endurance and fitness improve, you probably need to progressively increase the quantity of exercise you do.

Be active. Any additional exercise helps burn calories, which is the most effective approach to losing weight. Park further away from the store doors and take the steps rather than the lift. You may monitor how many steps you walk each day with a pedometer. 10,000 daily step targets are regularly attained. To achieve that aim, gradually increase the number of daily steps you walk.

Changes in behavior

A behavior modification programme can help you adjust your lifestyle and lose weight permanently. The first step is to examine your existing routines to see what circumstances, stressors, or other elements may have led to your obesity.

Counseling. The emotional and behavioral problems associated with eating can be addressed by speaking with a mental health specialist. You may develop healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety and get insight into why you overeat via therapy. Additionally, you may learn how to keep an eye on your diet and exercise, identify your eating triggers, and manage your desires for food. Group or one-on-one counseling is an option.

Support networks. In support groups, where others deal with similar issues related to obesity, you can discover comradery and understanding. For information about support groups in your region, check with your doctor, neighborhood hospitals, or for-profit weight-loss programmes.

Medicine for weight loss

Weight-loss drugs should not be used in place of diet, exercise, and behavioral changes. Your doctor will take into account both your medical history and potential adverse effects when choosing a medicine for you.

The most widely prescribed drugs for the management of obesity include:

Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave) 

Liraglutide (Saxenda) 

Orlistat (Alli, Xenical)

Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia) 

The effects of weight-loss drugs may not last long and not work for everyone. You can gain most or all of the weight you lost after you stop using a weight-loss drug.

Endoscopic weight-loss techniques

There are no skin incisions necessary for these kinds of operations. Flexible tubes and other instruments are put via the mouth, down the neck, and into the stomach after you have received an anesthetic. Typical practices include:

Endoscopic gastroplasty with sleeves. In order to decrease the amount of food and fluids the stomach can contain at once, sutures are placed in the stomach. Lessening one's intake of food and liquids over time is beneficial. the average individual sheds pounds.

Balloon intragastric for weight reduction. Doctors inject a little balloon into the stomach during this surgery. The balloon is then inflated with water to compress the stomach's volume and make you feel full after consuming less food.

Weight-loss surgery, sometimes referred to as bariatric surgery, reduces the quantity of food you can consume without feeling full or reduces the absorption of food and calories. It can also lead to vitamin and mineral deficits.

Typical procedures for weight reduction include:

Flexible gastric bands In this technique, the stomach is divided into two pouches using an inflatable band. In order to make a narrow passage between the two pouches, the surgeon tightens the band so that it resembles a belt. The ring limits the opening's growth. and is often created to remain in place forever.

surgery to remove the stomach. During a gastric bypass, a small pouch is created at the top of the stomach. The small intestine is then separated and attached to the new pouch by cutting it just below the major stomach. Bypassing the majority of the stomach, food and fluids enter this section of the intestine straight from the pouch.

Stomach sleeve. A portion of the stomach is removed with this treatment, resulting in a decreased food reservoir. The procedure is less difficult than gastric bypass.

Your dedication to making long-term adjustments in your diet and activity habits will determine whether you are successful in losing weight following surgery.

Other therapies

Other methods of treating obesity include:

Hydrogels. These palatable pills, available only with a prescription, contain minuscule particles that expand in the stomach after absorbing water to make you feel full. The pills are used before meals and are eliminated as stool.

Blockage of the vagal nerve. The vagus nerve in the abdomen, which alerts the brain when the stomach is empty or full, is stimulated by a device implanted beneath the skin of the abdomen.

Stomach aspirate. A catheter is inserted into the stomach during this surgery through the abdomen. After each meal, a percentage of the stomach's contents is expelled.

Complications of Obesity

Obese individuals are more prone to have a number of potentially significant health issues, such as:

Strokes and heart conditions. Obesity increases your chance of high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, which both raise your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes type 2. The body's ability to use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels can be impacted by obesity. Diabetes and insulin resistance are becoming more likely as a result.

Certain cancers. Cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrial, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, and prostate are among the cancers that obesity may make more likely.

Digestive issues. Obesity increases the risk of liver problems, gallbladder difficulties, and heartburn.

Apneic sleep. Obesity increases the likelihood of having sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition in which, when sleeping, alternately stops and resumes breathing.

Osteoarthritis. Obesity stimulates inflammatory processes in the body and puts more strain on weight-bearing joints. These factors may contribute to conditions like osteoarthritis.

Severe signs of COVID-19. Obesity raises the likelihood that you may experience severe symptoms if you contract the coronavirus illness virus in 2019 (COVID-19). Severe COVID-19 instances may necessitate treatment in critical care facilities or perhaps mechanical breathing support.

Obesity can make living, in general, less enjoyable. It is possible that you will not be able to continue enjoying the athletic pursuits you once adored. Avoid going in public if you can. Obese people may even experience prejudice.

The following weight-related concerns may also have an impact on your quality of life:

  • Depression
  • Disability
  • Guilt and shame
  • Social isolation 
  • Decrease in productivity


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Page last reviewed: Mar 20, 2023

Next review due: Mar 20, 2025

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