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The Real Causes of Obesity – Part 1

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard somebody tell me that the best way to lose weight is to just do a little exercise, eat healthy food and the weight will simply fall off, I’d be kicking back on my private yacht right now, in the middle of a three month tour of the Greek Isles.

Even more annoying is when you meet people who do just that, and the six kilos they’ve been carrying around since their second baby valiantly disappears after just a month or two of effort! You look at people like that and feel the kind of deep-seated envy only those who carry extra weight can ever truly understand. But at the end of it all, you’re left with just one question – why? Why am I so overweight? Why do I find it so hard to lose weight? Why do some people find it easy? And why does everybody (including me) think it’s all my fault? (Okay, that was four questions, but bear with me).

The answer to all those questions is in itself, quite simple: for a whole host of reasons, we do not know or understand all the real causes of obesity. Instead, we fixate on that single ‘solution’ of eating well and exercising, and when it doesn’t work, we assume it’s because of something we’re not doing right, or because we have no will-power. It rarely occurs to us that there could be another reason. But there is – and it’s a biggie.

We’re all different – physically, genetically, emotionally. We all have different backgrounds, personalities, hopes and dreams in life. So why do we think that all our weight problems and solutions are the same?

They aren’t. The truth is, there are a huge number of things that cause obesity, that affect weight gain, loss, metabolism, appetite, fat storage etc. And as individuals, we each have our very own combination of each of those causes.

Remember this – because it’s a theme I’ll return to again. If we want to get a handle on obesity, we need to understand what all those causes are, and how they affect us, personally. In this series of articles, I’ll set out in detail as many of those major causes as I can. I’ve grouped them together under the following headings:

Causes of Obesity

  • Overeating: this includes patterns formed in early life, social and family eating, eating disorders, ignorance of portion size, inability to interpret the signals your body is sending you to tell you you’re full etc.
  • Eating Disorder: there are far more eating disorders out there than anorexia and bulimia, and they involve eating to fill an emotional need, or being fat to fill an emotional need, or fuelled by depression and other issues. This particular topic is almost a bottomless pit in terms of suffering and consequences on weight.
  • Genetic: science is just starting to get somewhere with this, having discovered a gene that has a big influence on whether we put on excess weight or not, but these causes also include body type, viral and bacterial causes and changes to brain chemistry.
  • Bad Habits: includes poor nutrition knowledge, struggles to find the time to plan healthy meals, grabbing take-away when you get home late or not having enough time to exercise. Real life unfortunately feeds our bad habits.
  • Clinical Issues: there are more things under this banner than I can fit in here, but they include the consequences of insufficient sleep, depression, addictive chemicals in ordinary foods, stress, diet/binge history, metabolic and medical problems.

You’ll notice some of these seem to be connected – and that’s because they are. Anything that happens in your body affects other parts of your body and consequently, your life. And that’s my point. The real causes of obesity are completely entwined with the actual solutions to it.

So tune in for my next article, where I’ll delve into detail on how overeating distorts our perceptions, costs us a fortune and makes us feel, after a big meal, like beached whales.

Read the rest of the Causes of Obesity series:

Part 1 – The Real Causes of Obesity

Part 2 – 11 Ways Your Body Makes You Over-eat

Part 3 – Eating Disorders Start Young

Part 4 – Genetics

Part 5 – Bad Habits

Part 6 – Clinical Issues


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