Struggling to lose those extra pounds? Ready to do something about it?

There are many possible explanations for weight gain. For a small percentage of people, medical causes can be identified, such as underactive thyroid or other hormone disorders, but what about the rest of us? Most of us need to look elsewhere to understand the causes contributing to our weight gain.

There are several powerful factors that can influence your weight. Take notice of how these may be affecting you.

Environment

  • Differing energy efficiency
    Think of fat as ‘stored energy’ and our metabolisms as the efficiency of using this energy. We all vary in our energy efficiency which can be a factor in how we gain and lose weight. Those with more efficient energy metabolisms are at a higher risk of putting on weight while those with less efficient, who essentially ‘waste’ some of their energy, remain thin. Many other factors influence how our metabolisms work. Some are based on nutrition as a growing foetus, others are influenced not just by the quantity of food, but the types of food eaten!
  • Lower socioeconomic status
    Limited food choices, less dietary variety, and lower consumption of whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables can greatly affect an individual’s weight when accessibility to a balanced diet is not possible.
  • Size of one’s parents
    There is an abundance of research to show that overweight and obesity run in families, yet this factor is more difficult to clarify. While it may be because genes are inherited by the children or the child learnt their dietary and exercise habits from their parents, we cannot say with certainty which has the highest impact on weight gain. Although, it is likely a little of both.

Genes

  • Genetic make-up
    Being overweight and obese in adult life is directly influenced by one’s genetic make-up. It’s important to understand that your genes may influence your ability to gain weight. Daughters whose mothers are obese are eight times more likely to become obese themselves; whilst sons and daughters are four times more likely to become obese if their father is obese. These statistics are likely the result of both genetic and environmental factors.
    Experts in the field of obesity research still believe genetic factors are the most important in understanding obesity, some even suggesting up to 70 percent of obesity is contributed by the genetic make-up.

Please note that even if you come from an overweight family, you are not doomed to becoming overweight yourself.

Lifestyle

  • Work and leisure-related activities
    Did you know that if you are working in a physically undemanding job, you are twice as likely to gain weight? Occupations with light levels of physical activity can greatly impact your weight if you are not active outside of work.
    Increase in modern technology and decrease in exertion has crept into every area of our lives. We no longer walk to work, but drive; we sit and watch television for hours on end; we use electric mixers, instead of mixing by hand. The list is endless and requires intention to not get caught living a sedentary life!

Sleep pattern

  • Reduced sleeping time
    65 percent of adults admit they do not get enough sleep! Would you agree?
    In the past 100 years, our time sleeping has decreased by over 20 percent while our work- and travel-load has continued to increase. This counterbalance has led to an epidemic of sleep deprivation.
    But, what does this have to do with weight gain? Sleep is an important factor to recognize in weight gain as individuals who fail to get enough sleep, even one hour less than basic sleep requirements, are more likely to gain excess weight.

Diet

  • Increased consumption
    We live in a world of instant satisfaction and this has spilled over into our eating habits. A reliance on quick and convenient foods, take-away meals and fast-food has significantly increased fat and sugar intake. These may be the easy option, but they will do little to satisfy the appetite and can quickly lead to weight gain!