Causes of Obesity

appleThe reasons for obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom, it is not simply a result of overeating. Obesity results from a complex interaction of genetic, behavioral and environmental factors causing an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Research has shown that in many cases a significant, underlying cause of morbid obesity is genetic. Studies have demonstrated that once the problem is established, efforts such as dieting and exercise programs have a limited ability to provide effective long-term relief.

Science continues to search for answers. But until the disease is better understood, the control of excess weight is something patients must work at for their entire lives. That is why it is very important to understand that all current medical interventions, including weight loss surgery, should not be considered medical cures. Rather they are attempts to reduce the effects of excessive weight and alleviate the serious physical, emotional and social consequences of the disease.

Contributing Factors

The underlying causes of severe obesity are not known. There are many factors that contribute to the development of obesity including genetic, hereditary, environmental, metabolic and eating disorders. There are also certain medical conditions that may result in obesity like intake of steroids and hypothyroidism.

Environmental Factors

"Genetics loads the gun—the environment pulls the trigger."  George Bray, 1996

Environmental and genetic factors are obviously closely intertwined. If you have a genetic predisposition toward obesity, then the modern American lifestyle and environment may make controlling weight more difficult.

Fast food, long days sitting at a desk, and suburban neighborhoods that require cars all magnify hereditary factors such as metabolism and efficient fat storage.

For those suffering from morbid obesity, anything less than a total change in environment usually results in failure to reach and maintain a healthy body weight.


We used to think of weight gain or loss as only a function of calories ingested and then burned. Take in more calories than you burn, gain weight; burn more calories than you ingest, lose weight. But now we know the equation isn't that simple.
Obesity researchers now talk about a theory called the "set point," a sort of thermostat in the brain that makes people resistant to either weight gain or loss. If you try to override the set point by drastically cutting your calorie intake, your brain responds by lowering metabolism and slowing activity. You then gain back any weight you lost.

Eating Disorders & Medical Conditions

Weight loss surgery is not a cure for eating disorders. And there are medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, that can also cause weight gain. That's why it's important that you work with your doctor to make sure you do not have a condition that should be treated with medication and counseling.


In December of 2009 I made the decision that I had to change my life. I decided to take the journey of lifestyle change and begin a new chapter in my life. As an adolescent, teenager, and young adult, I struggled with weight and low self esteem daily. I thought that I would punch the next person who told me that "Angela, you have such a pretty face..." I heard enough of that and decided that I wanted to be healthy. Knowing that I was getting winded by simply running the sweeper or walking up and down steps, not having a bath towel fit around me, my stomach hitting the steering wheel of my car, my children drawing big circles for bodies and saying mommy its you, not being able to bend over...these were the reasons why I needed to change my life. June 2, 2010 was the happiest and scariest day of my life: The day I had my bariatric surgery and received the lap band. I was scared because I knew this was it...I had to looking back...I was happy because this was it...I was going to change and there is no looking back. With the struggles throughout my life being teased by others, being embarrassed of the way I looked, hating the way I felt. I WAS READY. I tried everything from Formu-3; Weight Watchers, Herbalife, Xenadrine, name it I tried it. It may have worked for a minute, but the weight always came back. I was determined to make the changes I needed to make. When you are ready, change comes easier. I was an emotional eater, I needed to change that. I needed to find other ways to channel those feelings. So I did. I don't eat anymore when I am happy, sad, angry, upset...being 100% Italian doesn't make any of this any easier. I am not going to say there are not days when I want to stick my face into a Whopper or Big Mac...but I know today where that will get me. Right back to 226...a number that I will never let myself see again. I was addicted to food, just like others are addicted to drugs. When you are ready for change, change will happen. This is a lifetime commitment, a lifetime change, a behavior change, a food change...a change I can happily and confidently say was the best thing I ever did. Lap Band was the the final tool in my belt to give me what I needed to be successful. I listened to the dietitian...for the first time in my life...I remember everything she said to me...I tell others what she said to me...I practice what I was told about eating and chewing and not drinking while I eat. It all came together like pieces of a puzzle. My puzzle will never be complete as each day that goes by adds another piece...another successful day of change. Today, I am proud to say I weigh 130 pounds. I have never felt healthier in my life. I am so much more energetic, I enjoy looking in the mirror (maybe too much), I can keep up with my children who enjoy me so much more...and my relationship with my husband is so much better. He loves me regardless, but his smile is bigger and the hugs are tighter. I know it is different for him just like it is different for me. I had support from my family which was huge, as they seen me struggle every day. I am happy to say I am happy with me today.

Thank you to Hope Bariatrics, all the staff and Dr. Wilcox especially, for helping me change my life. None of this would have been possible with all of you and the confidence you instilled in me along my life changing journey!!!

- Angela

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