Obesity can be caused by anyone or a combination of factors. Generally, obesity occurs when you consume more calories than your body burns off, but using certain medications and suffering from mood disorders like depression can also contribute to obesity.

Common causes of obesity include:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy food choices
  • Lack of access to healthy foods
  • Overeating
  • Long periods of sitting
  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Use of certain medications
  • Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Genetics

Identifying the root causes of your obesity is the first step you can take toward losing excess weight and becoming healthier. If you are not sure which factors are driving obesity, your doctor and/or a nutritionist can talk to you about your lifestyle, perform the necessary evaluations, and help you develop a weight loss plan. For instance, if certain medications or medical conditions are causing you to gain weight or interfering with your ability to lose excess weight, your doctor can discuss alternate medications and treatments, or treat the underlying medical condition.

Overweight vs. Obesity: What’s the Difference?

A person whose weight is higher than what is considered to be normal is described as being overweight or obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The main difference between being overweight and obese is the BMI range. A BMI of between 25.0 and 29.9 may indicate you are overweight, while a BMI of 30.0 and above may indicate you are obese. 

People who are overweight or obese have excess body fat, though people who are obese have a higher amount of body fat than those who are overweight. An estimated 70.2% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese, reports the NIDDK. Obesity affects 37.7% of adults, while an estimated 32.5% of adults are overweight.