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Risk factors for becoming obese
Diagnosing obesity
Complications of obesity
Treating Obesity
Obesity Causes

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Risk Factors for becoming obese

      The elements that contribute to overweight and obesity are many.

1) Diet

High fat diets strongly contribute to weight gain. High fat foods have many calories, and include fast foods, sweets, soda and many popular snack foods. All of these types of food are high in sugar and calories.

2) Lack of regular physical exercise

Those who do not exercise regularly or engage in enough physical activity do not burn as many calories.

3) Psychological factors

Stress, emotional problems and other psychological problems cause many people to overeat.

4) Genetics

Children of obese parents are approximately 25% more likely to become obese in adulthood compared to those with parents who are not obese. Genetic makeup by no means guarantees that these children will become obese, although genetic makeup often determines to some extent how much body fat is present and where that body fat resides on the body.

5) Sex

Because men have more muscle than women, and because muscle burns more calories than does fat, women often face a bigger challenge than do men in avoiding weight gain. The average man burns approximately 20% more calories than the average woman.

6) Age

As people age, muscle mass tends to decrease and fat begins to account for a greater portion of body weight. Less muscle mass also contributes to slower metabolism. Metabolism itself slows with age. All of these factors reduce the body's need for calories and decreasing caloric intake with age is required to avoid weight gain.

7) Cigarette Smoking

Nicotine raises the body's metabolic rate, raising the rate at which the body burns calories. Those who quit smoking experience an average weight gain of between 6 to 8 pounds, as they burn less calories when not smoking. The positive effects of greater taste and smell after quitting smoking may also contribute to an increase in food intake.

8) Pregnancy

After pregnancy, a woman's weight increases an average of 4 to 6 pounds from her pre-pregnancy weight. This is true for each pregnancy, and can contribute to long term weight gain in women.

9) Drugs

Many medications, including tricyclic antidepressants and corticosteroids, often lead to weight gain.

10) Illness

Many illnesses and injuries result in decreased physical activity, in turn leading to weight gain.

11) Medical Problems and Disease

Less than 2% of those considered obese can attribute the obesity to medical problems. Of that 2%, conditions most likely to cause or contribute to obesity are Cusing's syndrome (excess production of hormones by the adrenal gland), low thyroid activity and other hormone imbalances. It is very rare that low metabolic rates are causes of obesity.

The American Obesity Association offers excellent advice, information and resources for all those fighting obesity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health offers excellent articles and research on obesity and health issues. Use the search box to access obesity related information.

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