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    The Causes and Effects of Obesity

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    This paper reports the major and minor causes and effects of obesity. In the United States it is found that 31% of men, 35% of women, and 15% of children are obese (Carson-DeWitt, Davidson, & Atkins, 2013, p. 847). Obesity is when a person is considered excessively overweight based on the body’s estimated proportional weight. This term has of late become a big medical concern as more and more people are being diagnosed with the symptoms that follow. A person can easily reach the stage of obesity through the psychological, environmental, and biological factors of society consisting of eating disorders and low physical activity being the leading case as genetics plays a smaller role. This can lead to one’s rapid decline of health resulting in life threatening medical conditions or the poor wellbeing of a person. People identified as obese have been established to have higher mortality rates due to the risks that pursue.

    Keywords: obesity, psychological, environmental, biological, eating disorder, physical activity, genetics, life-threatening

    If someone of today’s society were to look at the world around them, they would see a variety of people with different ethnicities, gender, color, and shape. One issue that has become more prominent overtime, is the growing size of the people. It is found that the average size of a person has steadily been increasing worldwide (‘Overweight/Obesity,’ 2011, p. 219). The problem has turned more critical for people’s health where they are now being established the medical term obese. Obesity, otherwise being known as excessively overweight, is when a person has amassed an abnormal amount of body fat that is %20 or more over an individual’s principle body weight (Carson-DeWitt, Davidson, & Atkins, 2013, p. 847). The rate of obesity found in the United States has alone tripled in the past 30 years with having two times the amount of obese youth in the past 20 (‘Overweight/Obesity,’ 2011, p. 219). In the U.S., obesity has become a growing health problem in which this paper reports the many causes and the dangerous effects.

    The primary source of obesity is found in the consumption of too many calories that the body does not use through physical activity which slowly amasses overtime (Carson-DeWitt, Davidson, & Atkins, 2013, p. 850). However, there are many influences that cause this mass intake of calories amongst psychological and social or environmental factors. Eating disorders and lack of physical activity have slowly become the leading causes. Today it is found that many people are not happy with their image and lack self-esteem that has them turning to the pictures in magazines idealizing the model body. People that struggle with their weight tend to experience negative emotions that they console themselves through the intake of food which is not only defeating their purpose of weight loss but develops an unstable coping mechanism. This then can develop into an eating disorder the most well-known being binge eating. Binge eating is when an individual feels at a loss or uncontrolled and eats a hefty amount of food in a short period of time that furthermore adds to the feelings of guilt and failure which restarts the whole coping cycle. This establishes an unhealthy behavior and diet that promotes significant weight gain. Sedentary lifestyles also play a big role in the epidemic of obesity that contributes to the impact eating disorders have over many people. As sedentary lives are becoming more common either due to the advances in technology or change of economy, less and less are paying any attention to their daily physical activity. Physical activity is what balances out the calories one consumes that determines whether weight is gained, lost, or remains stable (Carson-DeWitt, Davidson, & Atkins, 2013, p. 851; Lutes, 2010, pp. 1306-1307).

    Genetics play another small role in the cause of obesity. It is found that one can have more potential of reaching the stage of obesity if it is hereditary. This means that family members tend to have similar body size, even when separated from the environment they shared. However, genetics is not an all determining factor of whether one will become obese, it is rather they have a greater chance of becoming obese due to biological elements (Lutes, 2010, pp. 1306). There is not one gene for obesity, but many that implicate the health condition. There is a gene that determines where and how fat is stored, as well as a gene that controls how or whether fullness is met. This leads to people developing different proportions of the body and a more likelihood of weight being gained in certain areas. These genes play a big part in eating behaviors, energy usage, metabolism, and the experience of hunger which altogether determines one’s weight and capability of weight gain (Stein, 2008, p. 323).

    Obesity carries high morbidity rates as many chronic diseases are found to be associated with the outbreak. These chronic diseases make individuals more liable to cardiovascular disease and stroke raising their mortality rate even more. Some examples are hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Hypertension is a long-term medical condition of high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia is high levels of cholesterol found in the blood-stream. Both medical conditions are brought about by the consumption of too much unhealthy food high in certain areas of its content. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is when not enough insulin is produced in the pancreas leading to high levels of sugar content. All these medical conditions place one at a greater risk of mortality and one’s health in decline leading to a lower lifespan (Budd & Falkenstein, 2008, p. 59).

    There are many health risks that place obese people at greater odds with mortality however, there are many symptoms that come with obesity that are not life-threatening. Sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, gall bladder disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and respiratory problems are a few examples. Sleep apnea obstructs sleep, where osteoarthritis corrodes joints, and gallbladder disease typically causes inflammation in the gallbladder. Gastroesophageal is when one has digestion discomfort and respiratory problems are when complications are found in one’s breathing. Though these health conditions are not deadly, they lead to deterioration of the body and of one’s health which also decrease a person’s lifespan (Budd & Falkenstein, 2008, p. 59).

    Obesity has become a major health concern over the recent years as the rates of the medical condition continue to rise exponentially. There are many factors today that create the perfect environment for this outbreak to spread. Eating disorders and poor management of physical activity is the main cause of the imbalance of the calorie intake and utilization leading to the rapid gain of fat to the body. Genetics play a small role as well where biological traits that are passed down to offspring help determine how and where calories that turn into fat are used and stored. Many health problems both life-threatening or not are caused by obesity. This epidemic is steadily spreading to the youth of the United States deteriorating the health of the people at younger ages and raising mortality rates as well as lowering lifespan.


    1. Budd, G., & Falkenstein, K. (2008). Assessment of Obesity and Health Risks. In K. Keller (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Obesity (Vol. 1, pp. 58-60). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Retrieved from
    2. Carson-DeWitt, R., Davidson, T., & Atkins, W. (2013). Obesity. In K. Key (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets: A Guide to Health and Nutrition (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 847-857). Detroit, MI: Gale. Retrieved from
    3. Lutes, L. D. (2010). Obesity. In N. A. Piotrowski (Ed.), Salem Health. Psychology & Mental Health (Vol. 3, pp. 1304-1309). Pasadena, CA: Salem Press. Retrieved from
    4. Overweight/Obesity. (2011). In B. B. Brown & M. J. Prinstein (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Adolescence (Vol. 3, pp. 219-229). London, England: Academic Press. Retrieved from
    5. Stein, S. (2008). Genetics. In K. Keller (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Obesity (Vol. 1, pp. 321-325). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Retrieved from

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