Obesity Center

Obesity Causes and Risk Factors

What causes obesity?
A person becomes obese when s/he consumes more calories than is being used by the body. This type of weight gain can take place over weeks, months, or years.  In contrast, if you spend more energy than is taken in, weight loss occurs.  Finally, if the amount of calories consumed equals the amount of calories being used, weight stays the same. 

Risk factors
Risk factors increase the likelihood of experiencing a disease or condition. Some factors might contribute to the development of obesity. For example, you're at higher risk obesity if you watch more than 2 hours of TV per day or are diagnosed with certain medical conditions.


Environmental factors – People who do not have enough time in the day to exercise due to long commutes are more at risk than others of becoming obese.

Ethnicity - Although obesity affects people of all ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds, Hispanic and African-Americans are at higher risk of developing obesity.

Genetics - Both obesity and being overweight may be influenced by genetics.

Gender - Women are more likely than men at becoming obese.

Income - Income is also correlated with a greater tendency to be obese, with women of lower-income being 50% more at risk of obesity than women of middle- and upper-income backgrounds.   

Lifestyle – People who have just quit smoking are more at risk of becoming obese. Alos, people who experience lack of sleep are more likely to be obese.

Medication – Taking medications such as corticosteroids or birth control pills can increase your risk of becoming obese.



Being obese is a serious health issue, as a number of disorders have been associated with being obese. By understanding the symptoms of obesity, you can take steps with your doctor to fall within a healthy weight range.  Read here for more information regarding medical symptoms of obesity next. 

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