Updated: Oct 14
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It's well accepted that reduced physical activity and fast foods are closely linked to obesity. But the evidence that these are the main causes of obesity, is largely circumstantial. To stimulate debate, experts suggested 10 other possible causes of obesity, outlined in the International Journal of Obesity. These are outlined below:
1. Sleep debt
Getting too little sleep can increase body weight. Today, many of us get less shut-eye than
Hormones control body weight. And many of today's pollutants affect our hormones.
3. Air conditioning
You have to burn calories if your environment is too hot or too cold for comfort. But more
people than ever, live and work in temperature-controlled homes and offices.
4. Decreased smoking
Smoking reduces weight. People smoke much less than they used to. On the one hand, there
are definite health benefits to stopping smoking, but on the other hand, weight gain is
a negative side-effect.
Many different drugs including contraceptives, steroid hormones, diabetes drugs, some
antidepressants, and blood pressure drugs can cause weight gain. The use of these drugs is
on the upswing.
6. Population, age, ethnicity
Middle-aged people and Hispanic-Americans tend to be more obese than young European-
7. Older moms
There's some evidence that the older a woman is when she gives birth, the higher her child's
risk of obesity. Women are giving birth at older and older ages.
8. Ancestors' environment
Some influences on our weight, may go back two generations. Environmental changes that
made a grandparent obese may through a "fetal-driven feedback loop," visit obesity on the
9. Obesity is linked to fertility
There's some evidence to suggest that obese people are more fertile than lean people. If
obesity has a genetic component, the percentage of obese people in the population should
10. Union of obese spouses
Obese women tend to marry obese men, and if obesity has a genetic component, there will
be more obese people in the next generation.
There are other contributing factors to obesity, that also deserve attention and study, like the effects of childhood depression on the young adult body; consumption of dairy products; and hormones used in agriculture. What else can you think of, that could contribute to the obesity epidemic?
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