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Causes of obesity

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Can be considered in terms of:

  • genetic factors
  • 'medical' (endocrine) causes of obesity
  • drug-induced obesity


  • obesity in children
    • Increasing rates of obesity in children and young adults are important since the majority of fat children will become fat adults
      • patterns of growth before and after birth have also emerged as being important
        • the combination of low birth weight, coupled with excessive weight gain after one year of age is especially hazardous and may account, in part, for the increased rates of coronary heart disease and type-2 diabetes in people of South Asian origin (1)
  • the most common cause of obesity is a combination of excessive calorie intake and reduced physical activity
    • "...At its simplest level, obesity is caused when people overeat in relation to their energy needs. At the same time as energy expenditure has dropped considerably, environmental factors have combined to make it increasingly easy for people to consume more calories than they need...(2)”


  1. British Heart Foundation (November 2004). The Causes of obesity.
  2. Third Report from the Health Committee: Obesity: Session 2003-04:London;House of Commons.

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