Skip to main content
take the reality check diet analysis take the reality check diet analysis

Weight Loss

From the effects of the hormone cortisol to the role of genetics in weight loss, this category is packed with everything that you need to know about losing weight the healthy way.

The Leading Causes of Weight Gain

Along with the financial strain on the economy, the consequences of overweight and obesity are significantly harmful to both physical and mental health and potentially even deadly. But what causes weight gain and how can we deter from such heavy statistics?

The Leading Causes of Weight Gain

According to NHANES, two out of every three Americans are considered overweight and obese. Additionally, The National Center for Health Statistics found 31.4 percent of Americans over the age of 20 were obese in 2017, which is up 19.4 percent who were obese in the 1997 version of the study. But along with the financial strain on the economy, the consequences of overweight and obesity are significantly harmful to both physical and mental health and potentially even deadly. But what causes weight gain and how can we deter from such heavy statistics?

Main Causes of Obesity

According to NHANES, two out of every three Americans are considered overweight and obese. But what exactly contributes and causes weight gain and these rates to remain elevated?

While genetics are not solely responsible for the obesity epidemic, genes can certainly influence its development, particularly by changing how people respond to the environment. But the CDC suggests obesity probably results from complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors (explained next). However, there are certain genetic disorders that place individuals at an increased risk of obesity, including Prader-Willi and Bardet-Biedl syndromes.

Environmental Factors
The decisions we make regarding food and health may be influenced by environmental factors, including in the community, workplace, or at school and home. From a lack of grocery stores to safe sidewalks, individuals may be limited in resources to implement healthier practices; therefore, it is important to create environments in these locations and regions that make it easier to engage in physical activity and eat a healthy diet.

Eating More, Moving Less
While weight gain is much more than energy balance, there is no denying eating more and moving less is paramount for weight gain and driving obesity rates. Nowadays, people are often eating larger portions of foods containing more calories than nutrients and staying sedentary related to working a desk job, sitting down to too much screen time, and numerous other factors. Individuals are encouraged to consume more nutritionally-dense foods in the forms of whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fats, along with exercising at least 150 minutes each week. Nonetheless, even as Americans are getting more exercise, "The ubiquity of energy-dense, hyperpalatable foods are literally engineered to be addictive make this a virtual truism of modern living: It is far easier to out-eat almost any level of exercise than to outrun the effects of what most of us eat," states David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

Speaking of nutrient-less foods and hyperpalatable foods… Sugar essentially offers nothing more than empty calories, with diets high in sugar proving to be highly addictive and linked to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates Americans consume an average of 20 teaspoons each day, or an approximate 80 grams. This is quite startling considering their recommendation of no more than 38 and 25 grams of sugar per day for men and women, respectively. But with sugar so deeply embedded into the food supply and displaying addictive properties, there really is no surprise cravings towards it continue to synergize. Learn how to stop your addiction with these tips, including giving in a little, knowing your limits, distracting yourself, and going for more naturally-sweetened foods.

Health Conditions and Medications
There are a number of health conditions that can cause weight gain, including hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, and polycystic ovary system (PCOS). Additionally, medications used to treat conditions, including corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis, can cause weight gain. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, and seizure medications may also increase the risk of weight gain. A health care provider, such as a dietitian, can help you learn more about your condition and side effects of mediation and provide education on how to mitigate the risks of weight gain.

Inadequate Sleep
More than one in three Americans do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep according to a report from the CDC. Unfortunately, sleep loss can cause weight gain by upregulating hormones that elevate feelings of hunger, reducing metabolism, exacerbating emotions that induce cravings, and lowering energy levels. To help regular sleep cycles, adults are encouraged to create a bedtime route by staying consistent with bedtimes, powering down from electronics, evaluating your sleeping environment, and practicing relaxation techniques.

High Stress
In such a fast-paced society, sleep tends to be low and stress runs high. And even if you are still gaining weight even though you eat healthy and exercise regularly, stress may be plotting against you. High stress can cause weight gain by pouring out cortisol, a hormone shown to increase appetite, drive cravings towards high-fat and carb foods, and make it easier to accumulate belly fat. Ultimately, it’s time to break the cycle of stress and weight gain!

Combatting Against Weight Gain and Obesity Risks

Whereas weight gain is mostly multifactorial, there are lifestyle changes one can make to mitigate against weight gain and obesity risks, including eating more nutrient-dense foods, switching off electronics and increasing physical activity throughout the day, sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and practicing stress-relieving techniques.

You can also let bistroMD assist in your weight loss efforts! bistroMD is the nation’s weight loss meal delivery service that can help you develop healthy eating habits and lose weight. Doctor-designed and dietitian-approved, each meal contains 1,100 to 1,400 calories daily with 40 to 50 percent of total caloric intake from lean, adequate protein, 20 to 25 percent of calories from healthy fats, and 30 to 35 percent from complex carbohydrate, with the balance of macronutrients providing the body with what it needs jump start healthy weight loss. The utilization of ready-prepared meals also allows you extra time to focus on self-care and healthy habits, including more time at the gym, sleeping, or practicing meditation. So if desiring meal assistance and seeing results in just a few short weeks, find more information on the programs bistroMD offers at their official webpage here or by calling 866-401-3438 today!

Sarah Asay's Photo
Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on June 09, 2020.


Follow @bistroMD

Theme picker

as seen on...
Dr Phil
Lifetime Network
The Biggest Loser
The Doctors