Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the world.
It’s associated with several related conditions, collectively known as metabolic syndrome. These include high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and a poor blood lipid profile.
People with metabolic syndrome are at a much higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, compared to those whose weight is in a normal range.
Over the past decades, much research has focused on the causes of obesity and how it could be prevented or treated.
Obesity and Willpower
Many people seem to think that weight gain and obesity are caused by a lack of willpower.
That’s not entirely true. Although weight gain is largely a result of eating behavior and lifestyle, some people are at a disadvantage when it comes to controlling their eating habits.
The thing is, overeating is driven by various biological factors like genetics and hormones. Certain people are simply predisposed to gaining weight.
Of course, people can overcome their genetic disadvantages by changing their lifestyle and behavior. Lifestyle changes require willpower, dedication and perseverance.
Nevertheless, claims that behavior is purely a function of willpower is far too simplistic.
They don’t take into account all the other factors that ultimately determine what people do and when they do it.
Here are 10 factors that are leading causes of weight gain, obesity and metabolic disease, many of which have nothing to do with willpower.
Obesity has a strong genetic component. Children of obese parents are much more likely to become obese than children of lean parents.
That doesn’t mean that obesity is completely predetermined. What you eat can have a major effect on which genes are expressed and which are not.
Non-industrialized societies rapidly become obese when they start eating a typical Western diet. Their genes didn’t change, but the environment and the signals they sent to their genes did.
Put simply, genetic components do affect your susceptibility to gaining weight. Studies on identical twins demonstrate this very well (2Trusted Source).
Some people appear to be genetically susceptible to weight gain and obesity
2. Engineered Junk Foods Heavily processed foods are often little more than refined ingredients mixed with additives.These products are designed to be cheap, last long on the shelf and taste so incredibly good that they are hard to resist.By making foods as tasty as possible, food manufacturers are trying to increase sales. But they also promote overeating. Most processed foods today don’t resemble whole foods at all. These are highly engineered products, designed to get people hooked.
SUMMARYStores are filled with processed foods that are hard to resist. These products also promote overeating.
3. Food Addiction
Many sugar-sweetened, high-fat junk foods stimulate the reward centers in your brain
Junk foods can cause addiction in susceptible individuals. These people lose control over their eating behavior, similar to people struggling with alcohol addiction losing control over their drinking behavior.
Addiction is a complex issue that can be very difficult to overcome. When you become addicted to something, you lose your freedom of choice and the biochemistry in your brain starts calling the shots for you.
Some people experience strong food cravings or addiction. This especially applies to sugar-sweetened, high-fat junk foods which stimulate the reward centers in the brain.
4. Aggressive Marketing
Junk food producers are very aggressive marketers.
Their tactics can get unethical at times and they sometimes try to market very unhealthy products as healthy foods.
These companies also make misleading claims. What’s worse, they target their marketing specifically towards children.
In today’s world, children are becoming obese, diabetic and addicted to junk foods long before they’re old enough to make informed decisions about these things.
Food producers spend a lot of money marketing junk food, sometimes specifically targeting children, who don’t have the knowledge and experience to realize they are being misled.
Insulin is a very important hormone that regulates energy storage, among other things.
One of its functions is to tell fat cells to store fat and to hold on to the fat they already carry.
The Western diet promotes insulin resistance in many overweight and obese individuals. This elevates insulin levels all over the body, causing energy to get stored in fat cells instead of being available for use
While insulin’s role in obesity is controversial, several studies suggest that high insulin levels have a causal role in the development of obesity .