Many people think that the amount of body fat you have is determined simply by how much you eat and by how much you move. But we now know that obesity is a complex illness that is caused by a number of factors including your genes, environment, stress, emotional health, amount of sleep, medical problems or even the medications that you are taking. Even with the same diet and the same amount of physical activity, people will have different amounts of body fat and where in the body this fat is stored will vary. Behaviour, environment and genetics are among the main contributors to obesity.
Environment plays a key role in shaping an individual’s habits and lifestyle. Your environment can directly influence your health. Today’s society has developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Walking has been replaced by driving cars, physical activity has been replaced by technology and nutrition has been overcome by convenience foods. These changes mean that it is easy to adopt unhealthy behaviours including poor food choices and low levels of physical activity. The net effect is that we are consuming more calories and using less and the body stores these excess calories as fat. Science shows that genetics play an important role in obesity. Genes can lead to certain disorders, which result in obesity. However, not all individuals who are predisposed to obesity become obese. Research is currently underway to determine which genes contribute the most to obesity.