Obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns. For many people, this boils down to eating too much and exercising too little. But other factors also play a role:
- Age. As you get older, your body's ability to metabolize food slows down and you do not require as many calories to maintain your weight.
- Gender. Women have a lower resting metabolic rate than men and tend to be more overweight. Additionally, many women gain weight when their metabolic rate decreases after menopause.
- Genetics. Obesity (and thinness) tends to run in families.
- Environmental factors. These may include lifestyle behaviors such as what a person eats and how active he or she is.
- Physical activity. Active individuals require more calories than less active ones to maintain their weight.
- Psychological factors. Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger.
- Illness. Some illnesses can cause obesity, including hormone problems such as hypothyroidism (poorly acting thyroid slows metabolism), depression, and some rare diseases of the brain that can lead to overeating.
- Medication. Certain drugs, such as steroids and some antidepressants, may cause excessive weight gain.
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