10 Possible Causes Of The Obesity Epidemic: Part 1

10 Possible Causes Of The Obesity Epidemic: Part 1 

10 Possible Causes Of The Obesity Epidemic-It’s well accepted that reduced physical activity and fast food are linked to obesity. But the evidence that these are the main causes of obesity is largely circumstantial. To stimulate debate, experts suggest 10 other possible causes of obesity, outlined in the International Journal of Obesity.

Sleep debt.

  • Getting too little sleep can increase body weight.
  • Today, many get less shut-eye than ever.


  • Hormones control body weight.
  • And many of today’s pollutants affect our hormones.

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.

Decreased smoking.

  • Smoking reduces weight.
  • People smoke much less than they used to.


  • 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.

Population age, ethnicity.

  • Middle-aged people and Hispanic Americans tend to be more obese than young European-Americans.
  • Americans are getting older and more Hispanic.

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.

Ancestors’ environment.

  • Some influences may go back two generations.
  • Environmental changes that made a grandparent obese may “through a fatally driven positive feedback loop” visit obesity on the grandchildren.

Obesity is linked to fertility.

  • There’s some evidence obese people are more fertile than lean ones.
  • If obesity has a genetic component, the percentage of obese people in the population should increase.

Unions of obese spouses.

  • Obese women tend to marry obese men, and if obesity has a genetic component,
  • There will be still more obese people in the next generation.

These other contributing factors deserve more attention and study. Even more, explanations include a fat-inducing virus; increases in childhood depression; less consumption of dairy products; and hormones used in agriculture. What do you think can be attributed to the epidemic?

Body Mass Index (BMI) Are You At A Healthy Weight?

The body mass index, or BMI, helps clarify an important distinction between being overweight or being obese. If you weigh too much, you’re obviously overweight. But if you have a very high proportion of body fat, you’re obese. Based on your body mass index, your doctor or another health professional will classify your weight as healthy, overweight, or obese.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI),

  • The BMI “describes body weight relative to height and is correlated with total body fat content in most adults”.
  • In almost all cases, this means that the BMI will accurately reflect your weight and proportion of body fat as a function of your height and weight when categorizing you as healthy, overweight, or obese.
  • Calculating your approximate body mass index is relatively straightforward, although you’ll probably need a calculator just to save time.
  • To get your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703.
  • Next, divide that result by your height in inches.
  • Then divide that result by your height in inches one more time.

As an example, let’s say you weigh 180 pounds and are 5 feet 10 inches tall.

  • Multiply 180 by 703 to get 126,540.
  • Next, divide this by 70 (70 inches is the same as 5′ 10″) to get 1807.7.
  • Now, divide 1807.7 by 70 one more time.
  • The result — 25.8– is your approximate BMI or body mass index.
  • If you don’t have a calculator handy, you can get the same result using the free interactive BMI calculator at www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm.
  • If the above example sounds like you, you might be surprised to learn that you’re ever so slightly heavier than your doctor might like.
  • A BMI from 18.5 up to 25 is considered healthy, from 25 up to 30 is classified as overweight, and 30 or higher is obese.

Generally, says the NHLBI, the higher a person’s BMI, the greater the risk for health problems.

  • In addition to causing your BMI to skyrocket, excess body fat is a well-recognized health risk.
  • Men and women with waistlines over 40 and 35 inches, respectively, are much more at risk for health problems like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
  • Like every rule of thumb, this one also has its exception.
  • Bodybuilders, for example, often have a body mass index above 25 and sometimes even above 30.
  • In this case, however, the higher BMI reflects the fact that bodybuilders have more muscle mass without having more fat.

Finally, there’s still only one sure way to lower your BMI if you’re overweight or obese:

  • Eat less and exercise more.
  • Your body will burn more calories than you eat and your body mass index will go down over time.