What Causes Obesity

Obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns. For many people this boils down to eating too much and exercising too little. Other factors also play a role in obesity. Here are a few common factors for causes of obesity:


Obesity (and thinness) tends to run in families. In a study of adults who were adopted as children, researchers found that participating adult’s weights were closer to the biological parent’s weights than their adopted parents. The environment had less influence on the development of obesity than the person's genetic make-up.

Physical Activity

Active individuals require more calories than less active ones to maintain their weight. Additionally, physical activity tends to decrease appetite in obese individuals while increasing the body’s ability to preferentially metabolize fat as an energy source. Much of the increase in obesity in the last twenty years is thought to be caused by the decreased level of daily physical activity.

Unhealthy Diet and Eating Habits

Having a diet that is high in calories, eating fast food, skipping breakfast, eating most of your calories at night, drinking high calorie beverages, and eating oversized portions are all causes of obesity.


Some medications can cause obesity if you don’t compensate through diet or activity. These medications include some antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids and beta blockers.

Medical Problems

Obesity can sometimes be traced to a medical cause, although not as common as many believe. Some causes may include Prader-Willi Syndrome, Cushing’s Syndrome, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Some medical problems such as arthritis, can lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors also influence eating habits and obesity. Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger. People who have difficulty with weight management may be facing more emotional and psychological issues; about 30% of people who seek treatment for serious weight problems have difficulty with binge eating. During a binge-eating episode, people eat large amounts of food while feeling they can’t control how much they eat.

There are numerous possible causes of obesity. It is important to understand what may be causing your weight gain before you can fully address the issue. Consider these factors so you can take the next step in your weight loss journey.

To learn more about causes of obesity, please call Sun Coast Bariatrics at 727.289.7137.