causes of obesityOvereating and a lack of exercise are primarily cited as the causes of obesity, but since such large numbers of Americans are suffering from it, researchers are delving into other possible causes of the disease. Genetics is probably one factor, and poverty and obesity have been linked in some studies. But these two factors are difficult to control, and researchers want to find causes that we may have some control over. The International Journal of Obesity recently listed ten more possible causes of obesity from a study by David B. Allison, PhD at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

1. Sleep deprivation is often linked to obesity. Sleep is an important time for the body to heal and rejuvenate itself. In the absence of sleep, both the body and the brain can go a little haywire. If you are trying to lose weight, make sure you are getting at least 7 good hours of sleep each night. Eight hours is even better. If you are unable to sleep, see your doctor for possible causes and treatments. Many people have had success with hypnotherapy.

2. Pollution may be a cause of obesity. Hormones control how much we weigh, and pollution affects the body’s critical hormones. Avoiding drive-through windows may help your weight loss goals in more ways than one. Aside from missing the 2,000 calorie Mega Combo, you may also dodge exhaust fumes that contain harmful pollutants that lead to obesity.

3. Temperature control feels wonderful, but until recently people’s bodies expended a lot of energy keeping us warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Now that are bodies no longer need to use energy for temperature control, those unburned calories may be turning into fat on our stomachs, thighs and arms. Setting your thermostat a few degrees closer to the outside temperature helps burn a few calories, lowers your power bill, and is even good for the environment.

4. Quitting smoking is a leading cause of weight gain in adults. While the harmful effects of smoking are widely known, many of the problems you are trying to avoid in the cigarettes may come back to haunt you in extra fat. Obesity is not related to lung cancer, but it is responsible for some other forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other diseases. After you kick the smoking habit, make some effort to get your weight off. If you had the willpower to kick nicotine, a few burgers and fries is no match for you.

5. A number of common prescription drugs list weight gain as a side effect. Anti-depressants, blood pressure medications and even birth control pills can cause weight gain. As people turn to these medications, we see obesity rising. While many of these drugs are absolutely necessary, use caution when you are prescribed new drugs. If you are taking a medication that causes weight gain, take steps to counteract it with a good, healthy diet and regular exercise.

6. As we age, we lose muscle mass. Less muscle mass means that the same person uses fewer calories during the same time period, doing the same activities. It hardly seems fair, but one of the causes of obesity might be our birthdays. Aging adults that add physical activities into their daily routines, such as walking, swimming or bike riding, can help keep good muscle tone and mass, burning more calories each day and warding off obesity.

7. The age of our mothers may play a part in our tendency to be obese. Some studies indicate that the older a mother is when her baby is born, the more likely the baby is to grow up to be obese. Since women are encouraged to pursue their education and careers just as men always have been, women are giving birth at higher ages. While we cannot do much about how old our mothers are, the information can be handy for women who are considering family planning in the future.

8. Family lifestyles play a part in our weight. Families that have behavioral factors that lead to obesity tend to pass their habits down through the generations. One example of this can be seen in the Deep South where frying foods is such an integral part of their culinary style. Generations that farmed outdoors several months of the year burned off calories that today’s TV and Internet generation store as fat.

9. Obese people may actually be more fertile than thin people. If this is true, then it makes sense that obese people would have more children; therefore more of the population carries the gene for obesity. This is not a proven fact, but it is definitely something researchers are looking into.

10. Obese people tend to find obese partners. As in number 9, it is easy to see how this could lead to the production of more obese people in the population.

While the causes of obesity are still not fully known and understood, there are things we can do to lose weight and become healthier people, no matter how we got fat in the first place. A good diet and exercise routine works for the vast majority of obese people trying to lose weight. Staying motivated by joining a support group, taking part in hypnotherapy sessions or simply setting realistic goals to achieve helps people who are trying to lose weight.