Causes of Obesity

As we debated about on Thursday, both genetics and the environment a person lives in has an affect on obesity. Inherited genes from family can make a person more predisposed to becoming obese. Although, there has only been a few specific genes found that have direct links to obesity, and those have only been linked to severe, early-onset obesity. Late-onset, or common, obesity seems to stem more from environmental factors rather than from genetics. 

Most of these environmental factors arise from socioeconomic influences or from lack of self control. It has been proven that the highest obesity rates are found among population groups with the highest poverty rates (Drewnowski). This is because healthy food is normally more expensive than highly processed food and is scarce in most communities where obesity is prevalent. Also, people with lower incomes tend to not be as educated, leading them to be unaware of the affects different foods have on the body.

I think there are many ways to combat these issues, however, I think educating people would be the most beneficial. At this point in the obesity epidemic I think most people know they should eat more fruit and vegetables, but many of them don’t think they can afford to. People could be taught to plant gardens so they can grow their own food, at least over the summer. This would not only provide them with fresh, inexpensive produce, it would also get people outside exercising. One hour of gardening burns almost 300 calories. If people live in the city they could learn how to grow vegetables in window boxes or in pots on building roofs. I realize this would not work for everyone, but it would be a great start for getting low income families to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Educating people on proper serving sizes would also be an effective way to combat obesity. Most people today do not know what a healthy portion size is and if more people did, it would help reduce daily calorie intake. This might not help with lack of self control, but it would help for a lot of obesity cases.

These are just some of my ideas, what are some ways you think would best curb the common obesity issue?



Drewnowski, Adam, and S. E. Specter. “Poverty and Obesity: The Role of Energy Density and Energy Costs.” The American Journal of Clinical Nurtition 79.1 (2004): 6-16. The American Journal of Clinical Nurtition. The American Society for Nutrition. Web. 1 Mar. 2014. <;.



2 thoughts on “Causes of Obesity

  1. Hey Alyson,
    Good points here. As the leader of 1000 New Gardens Bozeman, I can tell you that it is often expensive, difficult to do the labor, and time consuming to start a garden, but it can be done for anyone with some help from the community!
    I think that the government policies are the most important factor in obesity rates. Highly processed foods are cheaper than vegetables, and we need a government that supports well grown diverse vegetable production.

    Happy spring break!

    • I agree that the majority of obesity cases we see today are environmentally caused. And I think your ideas are great! I am curious where you got the calculation that 1 hour of gardeninf burns 300 calories, if that is accurate then that would definitely be killing two birds with one stone.
      I think that education is one of the largest environmental factors in the obesity crisis, because it is something that people in every race, socioeconomic class, and walk of life lack. I think another good intervention is focusing on educating people early in life and to try to educate the older generations through community centers and senior centers. It is never too late to learn about nutrition and obesity!

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