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What Causes Obesity?

By Mark Slansky
Food Pyramid -

According to an international group of prominent researchers, the cause of obesity is not totally addressed by a lack of activity and eating, they argue. This stands in direct opposition to the plethora of information posited on the television, internet, radio, and from doctors and health professionals alike who have for years blamed wide spread marketing of fast food, junk food, and too much time in front of the television as the reason for the increase in obesity in the United States and abroad.

Nonetheless, Dr David Allison, director of clinical nutrition research center at the University of Alabama- Birmingham argues that too much attention is being giving to what doctors and health professionals consider the “big two” contributors to the obesity epidemic so many countries are experiencing. Dr. Allison and other colleagues voice concern that although the two primary factors associated with obesity are certainly considered, other factors that may be just as influential are not regularly taken into consideration.

Other variables many health professionals maintain should be considered in the debate regarding the causes for obesity include:

  • Sleep deprivation or sleep bankruptcy: too little sleep can cause an increase in weight, and today’s Americans, overall, are operating with a restorative sleep deficit.
  • Pollution and hormones affect body weight and many pollutants found in the environment have an adverse effect on hormonal levels.
  • There are a number of different medications, both prescription and non-prescription that have the propensity to cause weight gain including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, diabetes medication, contraceptives and steroids.
  • Air conditioning. More calories are burned when an environment is too cold or too hot for an individual to be comfortable. Because more and more people live and work in temperature controlled environments, fewer and fewer calories are being burned.
  • Reduced smoking. More than in decades past, fewer Americans are smoking. Smoking, although potentially negative, has the side effect of reducing weight.
  • Ethnicity and age of population. Those who are middle aged, and from various ethnic groups have a greater chance of retaining unwanted pounds.
  • Heredity. Health professionals and scholars maintain that weight related issues can go back as many as two generations. As such, grandparents who struggled with obesity, for any number of reasons, may have grandchildren with a predisposition to extra weight.
  • Older mothers. Some empirical evidence suggests that the older a woman is when giving birth, the greater the chance of the child running the risk of being obese. American trends in birthing indicate that women are waiting later and later to have their first child, and as a result are older first time mothers than in generations past.

Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, there are a number of contributors that individuals are recommended to take into account when considering what may be the cause of the unwanted pounds he or she may be carrying. With increased knowledge comes greater opportunity to effective address any weight related issues that may be caused by factors, otherwise not considered.

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