The causes of obesity

I heard something on the TV news the other day that made me laugh out loud. The newscaster said ‘The causes of obesity are many and varied, and clearly much more research needs to be carried out to find a solution’.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that obesity is funny. But there is just one cause of obesity – consuming more calories than you use. There are things you can do to change what you eat, and how much energy you expend each day, but the only cause of obesity is a consistent, day-to-day imbalance between the number of calories that you use and the number that you consume.

Going a level deeper into the problem, I can think of just 5 reasons that may have led people into the bad habits that create such an imbalance:

  1. Ignorance. They don’t know how harmful to their health being obese is. They don’t know about the health time bombs of heart problems and cancers that they run a serious risk of contracting, or about the likelihood of dying much younger than their healthier contemporaries. They are just happy going along, treating their body badly, without a care in the world. I would like to think that there is no one in this group in the world. Education is a good thing, and hopefully everyone should have the basic information about their bodies to make informed choices about how they want to treat them, and what the likely outcomes are.
  2. They don’t care about being obese. They are happy with the way they are, and with the health problems which they will inevitably face as a result of obesity. I don’t understand people in this group – why would you willingly put yourself through such a torture? But if people are genuinely happy in their skin, they have made a choice. I know some people in this group, and they have every right to be how they want.
  3. Those who can’t see the truth. They don’t see anyone fat looking back at them when they look in the mirror. Or think it’s someone else’s fault that they are overweight. Perhaps they were force fed with cream buns, or defied science by putting on weight despite only drinking water and eating 2 dry biscuits a day. I more info

    don’t think so!

  4. They have low self-esteem. They feel bad because of the way they look. Or maybe they feel bad for other reasons (bad relationships, stressful work, etc) which makes them comfort eat. They just don’t think that they are worth spending the effort on to improve. The only solace they get in life is from enjoying eating what they know they really shouldn’t.

    I suspect that many of this group would like to change but just can’t see a way out of the darkness. They can’t find the willpower to do anything about it. I feel really sad about this group, as they are living through hell, when there is a way of changing themselves, their health and their self-esteem.

  5. They have no willpower. I can sympathise with this group too. I know how hard it can be to make the changes that you know need to be made. It can be difficult getting out of bed early on a winter’s morning to go for a run. It can be impossible to resist eating too much at a barbecue. Only having one drink at a party can be unbearable. But again there is a way to overcome this. Anyone can learn how to have a will of iron, if they want to.

So what is the solution? For the first group, education is the essential ingredient. The more you know, the more you are able to make informed choices about your health and life prospects. So the more information you can read about health and weight, the better.

The second group seem pretty happy, so I won’t worry about them – just wish them good luck (they will probably need it later!).

The third group are really difficult to help, as they won’t believe anything you tell them. Their only hope lies in the patient and persistent support and encouragement of friends and family to help them see the error of their ways. It’s going to take some time though…

The last two groups really can be helped, and should be. I’ve written my own book about how I lost weight and got fit called Get Fit, Feel GREAT! which has a lot of information about how to transform your health.

Rob Knowles 23 July 2009

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