What makes us gain weight?

In 2015 The Obesity Society scientists issued a visual summary of current knowledge of what we know contributes to weight gain. They divided the factors between contributing factors from inside a person’s body and influences from outside the human body. While the image itself looks complicated it can be divided into 7 areas that we summarize here.

Outside or external factors:

  1. Environmental pressures that prevent us from getting enough physical activity.
    • Too much inactive time spent sitting at work, in the car or at home (TV, electronics)
    • Too little activity in every day activities like driving instead of walking, lack of sidewalks, labor saving devices like TV remotes!
    • Temperature controlled rooms-our body doesn’t have to increase or decrease it’s temperature because it is too cold or too hot.
  2. Economic factors that increase food intake
    • Large food supply
    • Food advertising
    • Low incomes reducing healthy eating purchases
  3. Social pressures that increase food intake
    • Family conflicts and relationships that lead to stress
    • Social circles around eating
    • Limited access to weight loss programs and health care providers
    • Avoiding medical care and poor self esteem
  4. Eating and drinking behaviors
    • Availability of high calorie foods
    • Large portions at home and when eating out
    • Snacking
    • Lack of family meals and cooking at home
    • Lack of nutrition knowledge
  5. Pregnancy/Developmental factors that lead to increased food intake and low energy expenditure
    • Internal/inside the person factors
  6. Psychological factors that increase food intake
    • Binge eating, night eating, food addiction
    • Depression, anxiety
    • Coping problems
    • Trauma history
  7. Biological/medical factors that increase food intake and decrease calories burned
    • Getting older
    • Increased hunger response and delayed satiety
    • Endocrine problems like thyroid dysfunction
    • Brain appetite regulation problems
    • Chronic inflammation as from poor glucose control
    • Genetics-family characteristics including gestational diabetes
    • Physical disabilities
  8. What can you do with this information?

    Remember no two people are alike. Some people may have a few contributing factors and others may have many. Think about which ones may apply to you, and then learn as much as you can about ways to improve or correct the situation. Finally, decide to act on one thing at a time and seek the help you need to do so.