Is Obesity a Choice?

Is Obesity a Choice?

Why is it so hard to eat better? What influences your eating behavior? Can you make a change? There’s plenty of evidence that the world is getting fatter and less healthy. It begs the question as to why and challenges the importance of personal responsibility and one’s choices.

Although, in the end, it comes down to calories in and calories out for someone to lose weight, there are too many contributing factors for someone to be obese, ranging from physiologically, psychologically, socially, or even politically.

These factors make fat loss and muscle gain seem impossible. A study made with 24 people given 1,000 calories surplus every day showed different weight gains after 3 months. One person gained only 10 pounds while another gained up to 30 pounds while eating the same caloric surplus. Chalk it up to genetic differences but a 2018 study also shows significant disparities in the amount of calories burned at rest. One person can burn 400 calories more than another (on a daily basis) even if they both did no exercise at all.

We burn calories through NEAT,  or non-exercise activity thermogenesis – daily activities that don't involve actual exercise, such as by fidgeting, etc. Neat is still largely subconsciously regulated in the brain and can vary enormously between individuals. But it could be a deciding factor dictating your overall caloric loss.

Not surprisingly, an individual's hunger level dictates if a person eats more. A 2013 study showed a large difference among individuals who went on a high-fat diet or low-fat diet, after a meal. Regardless of what type of eating style is presented some individuals experience higher levels of hunger and less satiety.

Ultimately, staying lean or gaining weight is a numbers game. But that only describes one aspect of the process of weight management. Yes, a person is obese if he/she eats more calories than they burn after a long period. However, there are many potential factors that are harder to pin down.

According to Jeff Nippard, a natural professional bodybuilder who shares tips and training programs on his YouTube channel, several other factors include environmental factors (flashier advertisements of cheaper high-calorie food), social factors (the type of diet your family and friends eat or behaviors learned in childhood), lifestyle factors (how much and how well you sleep or economic access for better grocery options), and psychological factors (stress and depression is a risk factor for weight gain).

So, is obesity a choice? Clearly, there’s more to consider than just calorie counting. If nothing else it would be a simple matter of cutting back and letting the fat fall away. A person’s circumstances matter since not everyone starts from the same starting line. Personal resources, economic ability, familial background, social circles and settings, exercise choices, and psychological mindset all contribute to a person’s success at weight loss.

Granted, these are legitimate challenges but nobody gets a free pass. We all have to fight to stay in shape and it’s never given to us. Everyone has personal disadvantages and personal circumstances. And they are ever-changing and everywhere: at home; at the gym; in your work life! Recognize but realize it’s what you consistently do and every choice you make that influences your success!

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