Obesity is considered a multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component. Acting upon a genetic background are a number of hormonal, metabolic, psychological, cultural and behavioral factors that promote fat accumulation and weight gain.
A positive energy balance causes weight gain and occurs when the number of calories consumed (energy intake) exceeds the number of calories the body uses (energy expenditure) in the performance of basic biological functions, daily activities, and exercise. A positive energy balance may be caused by overeating or by not getting enough physical activity. However, there are other conditions that affect energy balance and fat accumulation that do not involve excessive eating or sedentary behavior. These include:
- Chronic sleep loss
- Consumption of foods that, independent of caloric content, cause metabolic/hormonal changes that may increase body fat. These include foods high in sugar or high fructose corn syrup, processed grains, fat, and processed meats
- Low intake of fat-fighting foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, quality protein
- Stress and psychological distress)
- Many types of medications
- Various pollutants