What Causes Obesity?

The causes of obesity are complex. Although many try to explain obesity as a result of “eating too much and exercising too little,” this is an unfair and oversimplified claim. The weight loss surgeons at New York Bariatric Group have dedicated their careers to treating obesity, and we know the truth is a difficult answer.

The fact is, obesity is caused by a great number of factors from epigenetics, to socioeconomics, and is affected by anything from psychology to metabolism. The causes of obesity include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Genetics
  • How your body processes food
  • Your environment
  • Eating and exercise habits


A critical component in obesity is genetics. This can be as straightforward as the ability to inherit genes from your parents that make you prone to gaining weight. It can also be as complex as epigenetics, which is a relatively new field of study for obesity researchers. Epigenetics means the way that your inherited genes actively express themselves. For example, some studies have linked environmental exposure early in life, to epigenetic changes. This means that two people with similar genes, could have those genes act in different ways based on environmental factors from their childhood. Other research has shown that fast-food may be more likely to cause obesity in some people, based on the way it affects their genetic make up. On the other hand, there is hope that future understanding of epigenetics may open the door for obesity treatments that take genes linked to obesity, and get them to behave in a way that causes less weight gain.

How You Process Food

As you’ve likely experienced, it is possible for 2 people to eat in very similar ways, but not gain the same amount of weight. Factors inside our bodies play a role in the way we process the food we eat. The way our bodies process food also accounts for some of the reasons it is so easy to regain the weight we lose.

It is believed that once our bodies see we are losing weight, the natural response is for our metabolism to slow down. The body is programmed to keep itself at the weight it is used to. This is often referred to as a “set point.” Even when we find weight loss success, our bodies seem to act against us, doing everything they can to hold onto the weight, or prevent us from maintaining weight loss. Bariatric surgery can combat some of these factors.

Schedule A Consultation

Contact Us

Your Environment

There is a wide range of ways that the environment affects obesity. As we follow the latest obesity research, we regularly see studies that bring us new information about causes or risk factors for obesity. Environmental factors start before we are born. Our parents’ exposure to air pollution or certain environmental factors has been shown to influence the weight of their children. Additionally, studies have shown that watching television is a substantial risk factor for obesity.

The inescapable parts of our daily environments make losing weight an even more difficult struggle. Another important factor in our environment is the prevalence of fast food.

Many of the patients we see have packed days between work, kids, or other family obligations. Our environments make it particularly easy to choose foods that do not promote weight loss.

Banner media

Eating and Exercise Habits

Even though we cannot say that obesity is simply caused by how we eat and exercise, these lifestyle choices are at the core of any obesity treatment. You know how much you eat matters, but so do some less-often talked about factors like how slowly you eat, the balance of nutrients, and what time of day you eat. At New York Bariatric Group we have a team of experts in nutrition and lifestyle who will make sure you are educated and feel confident in making the necessary changes to complement your weight loss surgery or weight loss balloon.