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Obesity: Causes, Effects & Solutions

causes, effects and solutions for obesity

Obesity (sometimes also referred to as overweight or plumpness) can be defined as a medical condition in which people have accumulated excessive body fat, which in turn may lead to several serious health issues.

Obesity is a big global problem, especially in the rich Western world since people often work in office jobs and consume excessive amounts of junk food, which often translates into overweight.

In this article, the extent, causes, symptoms, effects and solutions for obesity are examined in detail.

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Scientific Definition of Obesity

According to the WHO, people who have a BMI greater than 25 suffer from overweight, while people who have a BMI exceeding 30 are suffering from obesity.

Although the BMI measure has its shortcomings due to the fact that it says nothing about the share of fat and muscles in the body, it can still be regarded as a rough estimate for the determination of overweight and obesity.

Extent of Obesity

According to the WHO, the global number of people who suffer from obesity has almost tripled from 1975 to 2016.

Almost 2 billion adults have suffered from overweight, while 650 million of them suffered from serious obesity.

This implies that 39% of all adults around the globe have been overweight, while around 13% of all adults suffered from obesity.

These are enormous numbers when we take into account that there are billions of people in poverty who rather suffer from starvation than from too much food.

It is estimated that more people die from the consequences of obesity in the Western world than poor people dying from starvation.

Causes for Obesity

  1. Lack of education
  2. Parenting
  3. Friends
  4. Laziness
  5. Frustration
  6. Stress
  7. Lack of physical activity
  8. Overeating
  9. Poor diet
  10. Medications
  11. Diseases
  12. Poverty
  13. Age
  14. Childhood overweight
  15. Genetics

Lack of education

One big cause of obesity can be a lack of education.

Many people simply do not know about the consequences regarding their health that obesity implies.

Moreover, these people may also not be able to reduce their weight since they lack knowledge about proper nutrition. Thus, due to a low level of education, obesity is a big issue for many people.


Our parents have a big influence on the behavior of their children.

If parents suffer from obesity, chances are that their children may also suffer from overweight since these children will show similar behavior patterns like their parents.

Moreover, these parents may also cook quite unhealthy, which may further exacerbate the overweight problem for children.

Thus, the influence of parents may also be an important factor when it comes to the development of obesity.


If your circle of friends you hang out with suffer from overweight, chances are that you may also become overweight since you share similar behavior patterns.

Many scientists suggest that you are the average of the five persons that are closest to you.

Thus, if your closest circle of friends is overweight, you may be at great risk to suffer from obesity as well.


Laziness may also play a role when it comes to overweight.

Some people may just not be motivated to exercise at all and may rather watch TV or play video games all day long.

This lack of motivation for physical activity likely leads to overweight in the long run since your body is not able to burn enough calories if you are not working out.


Depending on the character of a person, frustration may also lead to obesity.

Some people, if they are frustrated, consume plenty of food in order to overcome frustration since they feel better due to this in the short run.

However, fighting frustration and negative feelings with excessive food consumption may likely lead to overweight in the long run.


Stress can be another important factor in the development of obesity.

Some people, especially people in demanding jobs, work quite long hours and simply do not have time to cook.

They often rather pick up some fast food since it is faster and more convenient.

However, the consumption of fast food may lead to serious overweight since it often contains high levels of fat and also often implies large amounts of calories.

Lack of physical activity

Due to their job or other factors, many people in our nowadays society do not have enough physical activity in their daily life.

Imagine you work quite long hours in an office job and come home tired and exhausted.

Most of us would not have the motivation to go out and exercise after work but rather watch TV or other relaxing stuff.

However, a lack of physical activity may also contribute to the development of obesity since our body does not burn enough calories, which will in turn lead to a weight increase.


Some people also just eat far too many calories.

If the amounts of calories you are eating exceed the amounts of calories you are burning a day, your weight will increase.

The bigger the difference between calories consumed and burned, the faster the increase in weight will be.

Therefore, for people consuming excessive amounts of calories each day, chances are that these people will suffer from serious obesity and overweight in the long run.

Poor diet

Not only the amount of food that people consume matters, but also the composition of the food.

A healthy diet consists of a large variety of different vitamins and minerals which can come from plenty of fruits, vegetables and a reasonable amount of meat or fish.

However, many people do not have balanced nutrition, but rather rely on the excessive consumption of meat and fast food, which in turn often leads to a weight increase.


Some medications may also lead to an increase in weight due to a change in the hormonal system or the metabolic of the body.

If these medications are necessary and applied for a long time, chances for obesity due to these medications increase.


There are also several health issues that may lead to overweight.

For instance, if you have a physical disability, chances are that you might not work out or do other physical activity since your body will not allow it.

Thus, due to the lack of physical activity, you may increase in weight, even if it is actually not your fault and rather due to your physical disability.


Although poverty leads to plenty of undernourishment around the world, paradoxically, it can also lead to overweight and obesity in our Western world since healthy food is often quite costly and people who suffer from poverty may rather buy cheap trash food and spend their money on other things.


Age also plays a role in the context of obesity.

When people become older, they are more likely to suffer from physical health issues, which may prevent them from working out.

Moreover, older people may become lazier, which further increases the chance of overweight and obesity.

Childhood overweight

Many studies have shown that children who suffer from overweight in their youth are much more likely to suffer from overweight and obesity when they turn into grownups.

This may be due to the fact that humans are creatures of habit. When we get older, we rather stick to our habits.

Thus, if people are already overweight as a child, they may just stay in this condition in their adult life.


Apart from many factors that can be influenced on an individual level, genetics also play a role in the development of obesity.

Some people may just be more vulnerable to overweight due to their genetics and may also have it harder to lose weight than others.

Symptoms and Effects of Obesity

  1. Excessive body fat
  2. High BMI
  3. Breathlessness
  4. Back pain
  5. Sweating
  6. Problems with physical activity
  7. Fatigue
  8. Low confidence levels
  9. Social isolation
  10. High blood pressure
  11. Strokes
  12. Heart attacks
  13. Diabetes
  14. Cancer
  15. Respiratory problems
  16. Mental issues
  17. Low life expectancy

Excessive body fat

One symptom of obesity may be excessive body fat.

The healthy range for body fat usually is between 8% and 19% for men and between 21% and 33% for women.

If your body fat is above those thresholds, chances are that you suffer from overweight or even obesity.

High BMI

Since obesity is officially defined by the WHO as a BMI exceeding 30, it is obvious that you suffer from obesity if your BMI is above this level.

However, keep in mind that even a body mass index value above 25 implies overweight!


Obesity may also cause breathlessness.

The higher your weight, the more difficult it will be for you to carry out tasks of your daily life since you will have to move more weight and carry it with you all day long.

Back pain

You may also suffer from serious back pain due to overweight.

Since our physical structure is only made for a normal weight range, chances are that your bones will suffer due to excessive weight and obesity, which in turn may hurt your back or also other parts of your physical body.


People who suffer from obesity may also suffer from excessive sweating.

On the one hand, this is due to the fact that people have to move more weight in their daily life.

On the other hand, their clothes may fit quite tight to their body due to the sheer body volume.

This can result in excessive sweating for people with serious overweight.

Problems with physical activity

People who suffer from obesity may have serious problems doing physical activities.

Working out may be quite hard. However, even tasks that would be rather simple with normal body weight may be quite difficult for people suffering from obesity.

This could include going for a walk with your dog or going shopping in the grocery store.


Since their body is heavily loaded due to excessive weight, people who suffer from obesity will often be quite tired.

Moreover, since these people also often have a quite unhealthy diet, this may further contribute to a high level of fatigue.

Low confidence levels

Confidence levels of people who are obese are often quite low since they are often victims of bullying.

These people may not develop a healthy inner game, which may translate in worse job opportunities and also in several other disadvantages for their life since confidence is crucial in order to accomplish things.

Social isolation

People who suffer from severe levels of obesity may also suffer from social isolation.

Imagine you are obese and are no longer able to go for a walk due to your enormous weight.

Chances are that you lose your friends and other social connections since you will simply no longer be able to meet up with them since you will not be able to leave your home.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is also often related to obesity.

High blood pressure is often also called silent killer since it is quite harmful, yet people often do not recognize it until it is too late.

For instance, in the U.S. alone, it is estimated that around 60,000 people die each year from the consequences of high blood pressure.


Strokes can also be indirectly caused by overweight and obesity.

Strokes are often caused by high blood pressure, which is initially often caused by overweight.

The degree of overweight also determines the risk of strokes.

The more obese people are, the higher the risk for strokes due to overweight.

Heart attacks

Similar to strokes, heart attacks are also often caused by high blood pressure, which can be caused by overweight and obesity.

It is estimated that in the U.S., around 650,000 people die each year due to heart conditions, many of them caused by overweight.


Many people who are obese also develop type 2 diabetes, which can cause serious health issues like an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and also for mental issues like depressions.

According to the WHO, around 1.6 million people die each year due to diabetes.


Also, the probability of many sorts of cancer increases due to overweight.

In fact, studies have shown that obesity is the second largest preventable cause of cancer.

Depending on the level of obesity and the time people already suffer from it, the risk for cancer also varies accordingly.

Respiratory problems

Due to the sheer mass of body weight that pressures the lungs, people who suffer from obesity often also suffer from respiratory issues, which makes it hard for them to breathe.

In turn, working out will become extremely difficult since obese people often will not be able to get enough oxygen.

Mental issues

Obesity may also cause mental issues.

For instance, people who suffer from obesity may suffer from depression since they will often not be able to live a normal life and may feel not valuable due to that.

Moreover, it has been shown by many studies that a lack of physical exercise due to obesity may also contribute to depression.

Low life expectancy

All the factors mentioned before may lead to a quite low life expectancy for people suffering from severe obesity.

In fact, the consequences of obesity are one of the most important factors when it comes to the death of people at a rather young age.

Solutions and Treatment of Obesity

  1. Changes in diet
  2. Physical activity
  3. Motivation coaching
  4. Find people with similar goals
  5. Set realistic goals
  6. Monitor your progress
  7. Medical treatment
  8. Hormonal treatment
  9. Surgery
  10. Education
  11. Food labels

Changes in diet

In order to mitigate the obesity issue, one of the most important measures is to change food consumption behavior.

People have to eat much healthier and avoid the excessive consumption of calories through junk food.

Instead, if you suffer from obesity, try to eat more vegetables and fruit.

Also try to cook by yourself instead of buying fast food.

You will soon notice how much fun cooking can be and you will also be in control of the ingredients.

Moreover, cooking also burns calories, which may further contribute to losing weight.

Another approach would be to introduce a fat tax in order to reduce the obesity issue since people would likely switch to healthier food if unhealthy food becomes more expensive.

Physical activity

If you suffer from obesity, it is also crucial that you try to work out on a consistent basis.

Many people make the mistake to work out one time quite hard since they are quite motivated, but give it up after just a few days since it was too exhausting.

Instead of going for heavy peaks, try to work out consistently with a reasonable effort so that you stay motivated.

By doing so, it will be quite easy for you to improve your fitness level, which will make it easier in the long run to lose weight.

Motivation coaching

If you have not the motivation to lose your weight alone, it can make sense to get a motivation coach or to buy a motivation course in order to stay motivated.

This may prevent you from stopping your efforts to lose weight after a few days since you will be pushed to stay on track.

Find people with similar goals

It may also be reasonable to search for people who also want to lose weight so that you have common goals and can motivate each other.

Having people around you with similar intentions may also prevent you to give up since you will be pushed by other people and may feel an obligation to keep losing weight.

Set realistic goals

In order to fight obesity, it is also crucial to set realistic goals.

Many people make the mistake to set unrealistic goals.

Once they do not achieve those goals, they are demotivated and give up.

Hence, it is crucial to inform yourself what is possible so that you can reach your goals, stay motivated and lose weight on a rather slow but consistent basis.

Monitor your progress

It may also help you to monitor your progress.

By monitoring your progress, you will be more motivated to continue your efforts to lose weight since you have already seen positive results in the future and may be more willing to continue your diet even in hard times when you are on the brink of giving up.

Medical treatment

If all the measures mentioned before are not enough to overcome your obesity, it may be time to search for professional help.

Maybe you should consult your doctor and talk to him.

He may prescribe you some drugs that may help to lose weight. However, keep in mind that drugs also can have serious side effects!

Hormonal treatment

Hormonal treatments may also help in the process of losing weight.

With hormonal treatment, patients often do not feel hungry anymore since their hunger is medically suppressed.

However, also hormonal treatments can have serious side effects.

Thus, before joining those treatments, you should ask your doctor if these kinds of treatments would make sense in your situation.


Surgeries are a drastic but yet effective way to reduce weight.

For instance, sleeve gastrectomy may help to overcome obesity since patients will have less room for food after the surgery and may therefore lose weight in a natural way.

However, also these surgeries can have side effects and should only be one of the last measures if many other measures to reduce weight have failed.


It is also crucial that we improve our knowledge regarding our nutrition.

This education should start early in school so that school kids already know how important a healthy diet really is.

By educating those kids, they are less likely to become obese since they will pay more attention to their diet and may continue to do so when they turn into grownups.

Food labels

Grocery stores could also introduce food labels which make it obvious which food items can be considered quite healthy and which may be harmful to our body.

Yet, manufacturers of rather unhealthy food would not be happy about these labels since they would fear losing many customers which makes it quite improbable that such labels will be introduced.


Obesity is a serious global health issue, especially in our rich Western world.

Due to the consequences of obesity, millions of people die each year.

It is therefore crucial to raise the awareness of the general public on this topic in order to change the food consumption behavior of people.

By doing so, we could prevent obesity and could also improve the quality of life for many people.

Follow this link if you like to get even more obesity facts and stats.


About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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