What Causes Obesity?

what causes obesityIs the battle of willpower actually a genetic issue? Weight loss is a big concern in the United States, affecting in some capacity more than two-thirds of the population. Of the overweight population of adults in the US, approximately half are actually obese. But why?

Fingers have been pointed in almost every direction in an attempt to answer this question. The rise of the fast food empire is usually at the top of the blame list, right alongside the shift to office work with 40 hours a week spent at a desk, and the decline in exercise thanks to the rise of TV, internet and other means of entertainment that don’t require movement.

But at the end of the day, the reality is that every one of us are exposed to these environmental factors, and not everyone’s body responds in the same way. There are some people who seem to just be more likely to gain weight, and who seem to have a lot more difficulty when losing weight. And the reason for this is likely genetics.

The reality is that obesity is genetic—or at least, there are genetic factors at play that substantially increase your risk for developing obesity.

We’ve long known that there is a correlation between parents who are obese and overweight children. We’ve also long recognized that children who are overweight are much more likely to be overweight as adults. But often these correlations are labeled environmental or behavioral. Being born to overweight parents increases your risk of being overweight yourself because of the habits you learn that contribute to obesity, right?

While the behavioral aspects are very real and concerning, they don’t tell the whole story. There is a genetic factor at play that is important to recognize. There are some people who are more likely to struggle with obesity, and who have to work a lot harder than others to maintain a healthy weight level. Researchers from the University of Chicago have been studying this, and found that the answer is in gene sequences. Many of the participants in their most recent study reported trying to lose weight 20 time without success. This is something that many who have struggled with obesity for the majority of their life can attest to.

Treating obesity as a problem of willpower does nothing to help those who are genetically wired to struggle with excess weight. What does help is weight loss programs that are designed to push through those genetic factors, like weight loss surgery.

It is true there may be genetic factors that are behind your difficulty with obesity, but there are still ways to lose weight and improve your health. Understanding the genetic factors at play should only motivate you more to work with a weight loss program that can help you achieve real and lasting change. Talk to your weight loss surgeon to get started.