TOP CAUSES OF OBESITY
The spreading obesity epidemic is most commonly associated with overeating (especially junk food and processed foods) and reduced physical activity. However, too much food and too little exercise may not necessarily be the main causes of obesity. Now research reveals the top 10 additional causes of obesity that are contributing to the obesity epidemic.
The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, investigated possible contributors to the obesity epidemic. "Undue attention has been devoted to reduced physical activity and food marketing practices as postulated causes for increases in the prevalence of obesity, leading to neglect of other plausible mechanisms and well-intentioned, but potentially ill-founded proposals for reducing obesity rates," write the study authors. "For at least 10 putative additional explanations for the increased prevalence of obesity over the recent decades, we found supportive (although not conclusive) evidence that in many cases is as compelling as the evidence for more commonly discussed putative explanations."
The researchers' 10 additional causes of obesity include:
Too Little Sleep. Chronic sleep loss can increase body weight. Insufficient sleep is common in the U.S.
Pollution/Agricultural Hormones. Pollution and hormones used in agriculture affect the body's hormones and weight.
Temperature-Controlled Environments. More calories are burned in an environment that is too hot or cold. Most homes and offices are now temperature-controlled.
Less Smoking. Smoking can reduce weight. Fewer Americans now smoke.
Medication. Medicines that cause weight gain are more widely used.
Aging and Ethnicity. Older people and Hispanic-Americans tend to be overweight. More Americans are now older and Hispanic.
Maternal Age. Older women who give birth increase the child's obesity risk. More older American women are now giving birth.
Ancestry. Ancestral obesity caused by environmental influences can be passed on to future generations "through a fetally driven positive feedback loop".
Fertility. Obese individuals may be more fertile. If obesity has a genetic link, this may increase obesity in the population.
Obese Spouses. Obese men and obese women are more likely to marry. If obesity has a genetic link, this may increase obesity in the population.
"We do not claim that all of the additional explanations definitively are contributors [to obesity] but only that they are as plausibly so as are the 'big two' and deserve more attention and study," the study authors conclude.
Keith SW. Putative contributors to the secular increase in obesity: exploring the roads less traveled. Int J Obes (Lond)2006 Jun 27; [Epub ahead of print].
DeNoon D. 10 Possible Causes of America's Obesity Epidemic-Besides Gluttony and Sloth, June 27, 2006, WebMD: