Recognize These Reasons in Your Life for Gaining Weight?


There are many different reasons why individuals gain weight to the point of becoming overweight or obese. For many individuals it is not a willpower issue, rather it may be a result of genetics and metabolic activity in combination with the environment.1  Learning to control the environmental factors, which includes the foods that are chosen, can minimize the impact of genetic factors that may predispose some individuals to gain weight as they age.

Most people do not gain weight in a short time period; rather it is a slow and progressive increase in the body mass index that eventually results in the individual becoming overweight and then obese. The slow weight gain is often dismissed as part of the natural aging process as opposed to a true health risk. However, there may be other factors that lead to weight gain over time which can include lack of exercise, lifestyle choices, inactivity, poor food choices and lack of information about healthy eating as well as stress, depression and quality of sleep.

Understanding how each of these factors can contribute to weight gain is important in developing lifestyle changes that can lead to weight loss that can be sustained for the rest of your life. Failing to identify these factors and only focusing on food is a short term weight loss solution that is ultimately destined to fail. Unfortunately many people attempting to lose weight become dissatisfied with their progress and revert back to unhealthy eating and lifestyle choices that prevent any future weight loss or result in weight gain.

Sleep and Weight Gain

 There have been many studies done that show a relationship between sleep deprivation and difficulties with weight gain and weight maintenance. The results are somewhat mixed based on the specific age of the groups studies. The research indicates that there is a relationship between sleep deprivation and increased weight gain in younger adults with this factor becoming less important as the age of the subjects increased. 2

 Sleep can also play a major factor in depression, anxiety and stress, all which are also linked to weight gain and difficulties in maintaining healthy, active lifestyles.

 Depression and Weight Gain

 Depression, anxiety and stress can all contribute to weight gain. In studies of female patients aged 40 to 65 years of age the diagnoses of moderate to severe depression increased significantly with increased BMI. Women with a BMI of 25 or less had a 6.5% rate of depression while those in the same age group with a BMI over 35 had a 25.9% diagnosis rate.3  These same women also had a significantly higher caloric intake than the lower BMI group and also reported lower rates of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week.

Activity Choices and Weight Gain

 Weight gain occurs when the amount of calories consumed is greater than the amount of energy used by the body. Including physical exercise that is moderate to intensive for intervals of at least 150 minutes per week is seen as central in any type of lifestyle change that promotes healthy weight loss and maintenance. Individuals that increase their activity level will note a weight stabilization or loss if the intensity and duration of the exercise creates an increased demand for energy that is equal or greater than the amount of energy consumed in the food.

Lifestyle choices that include more activity on a daily basis are instrumental in feeling good physically as well as helping in weight loss and cardiovascular health. These activities can be as simple as taking the dog for a walk or a jog each morning and evening or spending a half an hour playing outdoors with the kids. Each type of activity adds to the energy used by the body based on duration, intensity and the use of the major muscle groups.

Food Choices And Weight Gain

 Eating the right types of foods and controlling portions for fat, proteins and carbohydrates are important elements of weight loss programs. Lack of education about what are healthy food choices is a key factor for many people in making the right choices. Misinformation about what are “healthy foods” contributes to misunderstandings of good food choices. Simple food choices such as selecting whole wheat breads or pastas over white flour options is a simple way to help decrease blood glucose and ultimately weight gain.

Food choices that have high saturated fats, high levels of refined sugars and carbohydrates are poor choices on any type of weight loss program. Healthy options including fresh fruits and vegetables, small portions of lean meats and fish, and whole grains, nuts and seeds are much more effective for weight loss and maintenance.

The cost of eating healthy may be a barrier to some individuals pursuing a healthy diet. Highly processed and refined foods are typically lower priced and therefore more easily accessible to those with lower income levels than the healthier food choices. 4  This leads to a higher level of obesity in low income households where less of the disposable income is available for food items.

Pregnancy, Family and Weight Gain

 Individuals that are pregnant or have children or other family members in the home to prepare meals for also tend to have higher levels of obesity and are more likely to be overweight than single individuals of the same age. Pregnancy obesity is linked to gestational diabetes which in turn contributes to the risk of developing Type ll diabetes in the future.

Cooking for a family contributes to the availability of food items and grazing types of behavior as food is prepared. Unless this food intake is considered it may be very challenging to limit calories and control portions during the actual meal itself. It can be surprising how many calories you can add in a day by tasting foods, adding creamer to your coffee, eating a handful of potato chips to “finish off the bag” and so on. All the calories add up quickly.

Other issues such as medications and illnesses, genetics and lack of education about portion control, healthy food choices and the dangers of being obese or overweight are also factors to consider. Carefully considering the factors that may impact your weight loss program can help in developing a plan that will minimize their effect on overall weight loss goals.


1 O’Rahilly, S. (2009). Human genetics illuminates the paths to metabolic disease. Nature , 307-314.

2 Patel, S. R., & Hu, F. B. (2008). Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review. Obesity , 643-653.

3 Simmon, G. E., Ludman, E. J., Linde, J. A., & etal. (2008). Association between obesity and depression in middle-aged women. General Hospital Psychiatry , 32-39.

4 Drewnowski, A., & Specter, S. (2004). Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 6-16.




The content provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Our content is not medical advice and you should seek a licensed physician or health professional regarding all health issues. WEIGHTLOSS.US takes no responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, or application of medication which results from reading this site.