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Why do people become overweight?

Towanda Stewart
Nursing Specialist

The metabolic reason for “why do people become overweight” is related to caloric intake and activity/ inactivity; but, there are many factors that contribute to weight gain. Some of those modifiable contributing factors include sedentary lifestyles, poor exercise regimen, lack of knowledge of weight gain process and control, poor diet choices (empty calorie foods/ excessive snacking) and making lifestyle changes instead of choosing fad diets.

Dr. Richard Ricciardi
Advanced Practice Nursing Specialist
Great question, especially considering the overweight and obesity epidemic in developed nations worldwide. The simple answer to "why" do people become overweight is that you gain weight if you take in more calories (by eating) then you use during daily activities (muscle activity). Although the "equation" seems simple, in reality, weight gain often occurs over long periods of time -- so it "sneaks" up on people. Over time, peoples' health habits change and they may get into poor eating and physical activity habits. In children, being overweight is even more complicated as it involves your family and community. The bottom line is that whatever your age it takes a huge effort to be constantly aware and engaged in your diet and physical activity, and to keep good health habits (nutrition and physical exercise). 
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Your weight is the result of many risk factors. Some of these factors include genetics (how much your grandparents, parents, and siblings weigh); metabolic rate (how your body changes food and oxygen into energy); your eating and exercise habits; medications and health conditions; and more.

While you cannot change some risk factors for obesity like genetics, you can change factors like your lifestyle habits -- how much you eat and exercise.  You can manage overweight and obesity by losing weight and reaching a healthy weight for your body type. By following a healthy eating plan, watching the calories you ingest each day, and staying physically active, you can gain control of your weight. In doing so, you can reduce the risk you have for chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.