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Risk Factors for Obesity
A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. A person can get obesity with or without the ones listed below. The chances of getting obesity are greater in people who have many risk factors.
Obesity is more common in older adults. It is also more common in people who are Hispanic, Black, and White. Other things that can raise the risk are:
Obesity is more common in people who have parents with obesity. Some rare, inherited disease may also raise the risk.
Eating a lot of fast food and high-calorie, low-nutrient foods raises the risk.
Children who do not eat regular meals with their family are also at higher risk.
Low Activity Level
People who do not burn calories through activity have a higher risk of becoming obese.
Children and adults who are not active and spend a lot of time using screens have a higher risk of becoming obese.
People who sleep 6 or less hours a night have a higher risk of becoming obese. This includes shift workers.
Mental Health Factors
Mental health problems like depression can raise the risk in both adults and children. Taking medicine to treat these problems can also lead to obesity.
The risk of obesity is also higher in children with learning disabilities and those who were abused as children.
People who quit smoking have a higher risk of becoming obese. However, the benefits of quitting are higher than the risk of gaining weight. The risk of obesity may also be lowered with activity.
Kumar S, Kelly AS. Review of Childhood Obesity: From Epidemiology, Etiology, and Comorbidities to Clinical Assessment and Treatment. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017 Feb;92(2):251-265.
Obesity. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional-disorders/obesity-and-the-metabolic-syndrome/obesity. Update January 2020. Accessed January 30, 2020.
Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obesity-in-adults. Updated November 30, 2018. Accessed January 30, 2020.
Obesity in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obesity-in-children-and-adolescents. Updated October 30, 2019. Accessed January 30, 2020.
Risk factors. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/risks. Accessed January 30, 2020.
12/14/2015 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obesity-in-children-and-adolescents: Simmonds M, Burch J, et al. The use of measures of obesity in childhood for predicting obesity and the development of obesity-related diseases in adulthood: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Technol Assess. 2015;19(43):1-336.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
- Review Date: 11/2019
- Update Date: 02/09/2021