Understanding Your Weight and Health

Causes of Obesity

Obesity is simply not a result of overeating. It is a chronic disease that needs to be prevented and treated. The causes of obesity are widespread but target three main contributors: behavior, environment and genetics.


Obesity FactorsIn today’s fast-paced environment, it is easy to adopt unhealthy behaviors. Behavior, in the case of obesity, relates to food choices, amount of physical activity you get and the effort to maintain your health.

Americans are consuming more calories on average than in past decades. The increase in caloric intake has also decreased the nutrients consumed that are needed for a healthy diet. This behavioral problem also relates to the increase in portion sizes at home and when dining out.

While Americans are consuming more calories, they are not expending them with enough physical activity. Physical activity is an important element in modifying and molding behaviors. The influence of television, computers and other technologies discourage physical activity and add to the problem of obesity in our society.


Environment plays a key role in shaping an individual’s habits and lifestyle. There are many environmental influences that can impact your health decisions. Today’s society has developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Walking has been replaced by driving cars, physical activity has been replaced by technology and nutrition has been overcome by convenience foods.


Science shows that genetics play a role in obesity and severe obesity. Genes can cause certain disorders which result in obesity. However, not all individuals who are predisposed to obesity will be affected by severe obesity. Research is currently underway to determine which genes contribute most to obesity.