Weight Loss Home > Causes of Obesity

Obesity -- an excessive amount of body fat -- occurs when a person consumes more calories than are burned. There are several "risk factors," such as genetics, environmental factors, social factors, illnesses, and medications. However, these are not "causes" of obesity because they do not guarantee obesity. In all of these situations, the underlying cause of obesity is eating more than the body can burn.

What Causes Obesity? -- An Overview

Obesity is a term that refers to an excessive amount of body fat. Although there are more accurate (and costly) ways to measure the amount of body fat, healthcare providers can estimate it by calculating the body mass index (BMI).
(Click BMI Calculator or BMI Chart to find your BMI.)
The cause of obesity is, quite simply, when a person consumes more calories from food than he or she is able to burn. You may be asking yourself, "I thought there were several causes of obesity, such as genetics, medicines, or diseases." It is important to understand that these are not causes of obesity. Instead, they are known as influences or risk factors for obesity. These risk factors increase a person's chances for obesity, but they do not "guarantee" obesity.
Some of these obesity risk factors include:
  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors
  • Social factors
  • Illnesses
  • Medications.
Before we talk about these risk factors, it may help to understand a little bit about calories and metabolism.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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