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Over weight - causes
Various factors cause some people to be over weight, while others who seem to eat the same meals are not over weight.  Some of these factors are age, gender, activity level, food preferences, body weight, medications, and heredity.

As a person ages, metabolism slows down causing weight gain.  A slower metabolism does not require as many calories as a faster one.  Some people claim that they eat the same food and maintain the same activity level in their 40’s as they did in their 20’s and still gain weight.

Gender is another factor.  Since males have a higher resting metabolic rate than females, their bodies require more calories to maintain their body weight.  A higher amount of muscle tissue, or lean body mass, is the reason for the higher metabolic rate.  Menopausal women have a lower resting metabolic rate than those women who are pre-menopausal.  This accounts for the fact that many women gain weight after menopause. 

Activity level is an important factor in maintaining healthy weight.  A higher activity level requires more calories while it diminishes appetite.  A high activity level in over weight people will cause the body to metabolize fat as an energy source.  Studies show that the increase in over weight people in the last 25 years is a result of decreased level of physical activity in everyday life. 

Body weight is important because the more a person weighs, the more calories are required to maintain their body weight.  If an over weight person who requires a certain number of calories to maintain weight begins to consume fewer calories, he will lose weight.  Eventually, however, his body will stabilize at the new weight because his metabolic rate will decrease, and he will stop losing weight.

An individual’s preference for certain foods is a major factor which contributes to a person’s being over weight.  A person who prefers carbohydrates and high fat foods will have more of a chance of being over weight than a person who prefers fruits and vegetables. 

Some medications, particularly those which control seizures, mental illness, and inflammation, are likely to cause increased appetite, decreased metabolic rate, and might lead to an over weight condition.

Heredity is a major contributing factor in causing some people to be over weight.  It is most closely tied to the weight of a person’s mother.  If the mother is over weight, there is a 75 percent chance that her children will also be heavy.  Apparently metabolic processes are inherited from the mother.  Some scientists believe that this genetic tendency to be over weight is a result of a gene which produces an abnormal protein causing a slower metabolic rate. 

Finally, a tendency toward being over weight is a survival tactic.  The body stores fat to use in time of famine.  The fact that in modern times famine rarely occurs anywhere other than
Third World countries makes this ability to store fat a disadvantage which contributes to being over weight.

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