Some people are born with a predisposition to gaining weight and becoming obese. Factors that increase a person’s risk of of becoming obese are:
- Genetics: Your genes may affect the amount of body fat you store and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy, and how your body burns calories during exercise. Your genetic makeup doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be obese, however.
- Lack of physical activity: The remote control, video games, the automobile, television, and to some extent the computer are all part of the environment which discourages people from being physically active. Some people live in neighborhoods where they can’t go outside because walking or running is too dangerous, and they don’t have money to join health clubs. Plus, given that we’re becoming fatter as a society, it becomes less appealing to exercise. Our bodies need calories for daily functions such as breathing, digestion, and daily activities. Weight gain occurs when calories consumed exceed this need. Physical activity plays a key role in energy balance because it uses up calories consumed.
- Family history: If one or both of your parents are obese, your chances of being obese are greater. This may be due to shared genes or to a shared environment, which may include high-calorie foods and inactivity.
- Age: As you get older, you tend to be less active. In addition, the amount of muscle in your body tends to decrease with age. This lower muscle mass leads to a decrease in metabolism. These changes also reduce calorie needs. If you don’t decrease your caloric intake as you age, you’ll likely gain weight.
- Negative emotions: Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger. It has been observed that women with the most severe binge eating problems are also likely to have symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. These women may have more difficulty losing weight and keeping it off than people without binge eating problems. During a binge eating episode, people eat large amounts of food and feel that they cannot control how much they are eating.
- Sex: Women are more likely to be obese than are men. Women have less muscle mass and tend to burn fewer calories at rest than men do.