Infographic about the causes of obesity. Obesity can be caused by lack of exercise, food choice, health conditions, and genetics.

If you have a body mass index of 30 or higher, you may qualify as being obese. While some people with an athletic build may have a BMI of 30 or higher, they’re likely not obese because their body mass is determined by extra muscle—not stored fat.

If you’re obese, or think you may be, you’re not alone. Obesity is a common public health problem both in the United States and worldwide, often resulting in diabetes, heart disease, strokes, or certain forms of cancer. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 160 million people are obese.

Obesity continues to affect more children and adults as food becomes more accessible and our lifestyles become more sedentary. It’s more important than ever to educate ourselves and our community about obesity and how to prevent it from ruining our health.

What Causes Obesity?

Contrary to popular belief, saving yourself from obesity is not merely a matter of willpower. While discipline and motivation play a role in how much food we consume or how much exercise we get every day, they’re not the only factors that determine whether or not you’ll be obese. As it turns out, your genetics, health problems, and the lack of access to healthy food are all common causes of obesity, in addition to what and how you eat.


We now know genetics are a strong cause of obesity. Studies on identical twins, for example, show that variation in weight is indirectly linked to a family history of obesity. Genetics may determine whether energy is stored as fat or lean tissue.

Health Conditions and Diseases that Cause Obesity

Certain health conditions and medications also cause weight gain. Some trigger excessive eating while others negatively impact the way your body processes energy.

  • Hypothyroidism: The thyroid hormone regulates the body’s metabolism. When the thyroid gland produces too little of the thyroid hormone, the metabolic system doesn’t function properly, resulting in weight gain.
  • Cushing’s Syndrome: This condition results from an excess of cortisol produced by the body’s adrenal glands (located on top of each kidney), causing fat to build up in the face, upper back, and abdomen.
  • Depression: Depression may lead to overeating, resulting in weight gain.

In addition to medical conditions, certain medications are linked to weight gain. Pharmaceutical drugs that treat diabetes, antidepressants, and antipsychotics can all increase an individual’s appetite, causing them to gain weight.

Healthy Food Scarcity

Another leading cause of obesity is increased food availability. Food producers aggressively market junk food to consumers in grocery stores and convenience stores across the country. These items are cheap and easy to make, but they’re high in sugar and don’t have much nutritional value. In some areas, it’s harder to find the fresh, whole foods necessary for a healthy diet.

More Than Will Power

Obesity isn’t always caused by a lack of willpower or a series of poor decisions. There are many other factors that cause obesity, including genetics, diseases, and medications. If you’re currently struggling with your weight, or you have been for a while, contact one of our certified weight loss coaches. We provide the information, support, and diet plans you need to create a happier, healthier you. Get in touch with us today to learn how our weight loss medications and plans will jumpstart your diet and help you stay on track until you’ve reached your goals.