Common Risk Factors for Obesity

Friday 28 May 2021
Health & Wellness
3 minute(s) read

Table of Contents


I. Genetic Risk for Obesity

II. Environmental Risk Factors

a. Limited Food Options

b. Childhood Upbringing and Poor Eating Habits

III. Psychological Risk Factors


Obesity is a medical problem because it increases your risk of serious diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t just important for cosmetic reasons. A healthy weight is important for your overall health. But obesity is a complex disease, and some people may be more likely to accumulate excess body fat than others. [1]

If you find it difficult to stay at a healthy weight, talk to your doctor about possible medical interventions. Your doctor can determine if weight loss medications like Xenical (orlistat) are suitable for you. Orlistat is an ingredient that reduces the amount of fat absorbed by your body. Along with a low-calorie diet, orlistat can aid in weight loss and may prevent gaining back lost weight. [2] Read on to learn about common risk factors for obesity.

weight loss pills next to a measuring tape

Genetic Risk for Obesity

Certain genetic factors could predispose you to a higher risk of obesity. Your genes give the body instructions on how to interact with the environment. This means that your genes can play an important role in how you digest food and convert fats into energy. [3]

In studies that compare obese and non-obese people, researchers have identified variants in several genes that may increase obesity risk. These genetic variants could explain low metabolism, characterized by a reduced ability to use dietary fats as fuel and an increased tendency to store fat. Gene variants may also drive overeating, leading to obesity if the affected person has a low metabolism. [3]

The relationship between genetic factors and obesity-related behaviors is widely studied, and experts generally agree that a single gene variant is rarely the cause of obesity. Instead, most obesity results from multiple genetic factors combined with environmental factors. [3] The next section outlines the environmental factors that can increase your risk of obesity.  

a man holding a double cheeseburger

Environmental Risk Factors

a. Limited Food Options

Social issues can contribute to the risk of obesity. Living in areas where healthy food isn’t accessible or in areas where it isn’t safe to exercise outdoors can make a healthy lifestyle challenging. Additionally, those of a poorer economic status may not be able to afford healthy foods and resort to cheaper, more processed alternatives. [1]

b. Childhood Upbringing and Poor Eating Habits

The eating habits you internalize as a child may have lasting implications. The childhood habits that can affect your adult life are not limited to eating habits. How much you exercise, the activities you enjoy, and your concept of healthy foods can all factor into your current subconscious behaviors. Consequently, if you led a sedentary lifestyle or ate more junk food than normal growing up, you may be at an increased risk of obesity. [1]

Your friend groups and the people you live with can affect your weight as well. The people you spend the most time around can influence your cooking style, health choices, and activity levels. As such, you are more likely to be overweight if your friends and relatives are obese. [1]

a group of friends

Psychological Risk Factors

Depression and anxiety are two mental disorders that commonly lead to weight gain. When you are depressed or suffer from anxiety, you may be more likely to overeat, make poor food choices, and avoid physical activity. According to the CDC, 43 percent of adults with depression are obese. In children who are depressed, obesity is more prevalent as well. Children with depression typically have a higher BMI than children without depression. [4] 

Many other factors can increase your risk of excessive weight gain. Stress, pregnancy, and a lack of sleep can all contribute to your risk of obesity. For some people, quitting smoking can make weight gain more likely as well. If you are concerned with your risk of obesity, ask your doctor about prescription-strength orlistat. This weight loss medication is usually taken during meals that have high-fat contents. You can also take positive steps to manage your weight by talking to a dietician and making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.