Causes of excess fat - Genetics, diet

Overweight and obesity are diseases that have increased the most in recent years. Excess fat can cause severe chronic diseases.

There is a tendency to attribute excess fat mainly to genetic factors or age. While it is accurate that they have an influence, this is not the main factor.

This article details the leading causes of excess fat. What weighs more: genetics, diet, or a sedentary lifestyle?

Excess fat causes serious illness.

Excess fat is a risk factor for many chronic diseases and is directly related to the development of type 2 diabetes and established cardiovascular diseases. (2.3)

The WHO defines a person with excess fat when they have a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 25. When this value is greater than 30, it is considered obesity. (1)

According to scientists, while BMI is a rough indicator of whether a person has excess fat, it is not the best. They must resort to methods to calculate body fat percentage to do this. The ideal is 18-20% for women and 14-18% for men.

Causes of excess body fat

Excess body fat is a multifactorial parameter. So you have to evaluate what happens in each case. The leading causes of excess fat are:

  1. Extra calories in the diet

If your body receives more energy at the end of the day, you will gain weight. The unused calories will be accumulated in the form of excess fat. It is not news that overeating is one of the causes of excess fat.

  1. Simple carbohydrates

Excess sugar and other simple carbohydrates are leading causes of excess fat. This is not due to its calories but because sweet foods generate hormonal changes. The rise and spikes in insulin make a person eat more and more, and in the long term, they gain weight.

  1. Sleep disorders

Shallow sleeping, insomnia, and other sleep disorders are causes of excess body fat. When a person sleeps poorly, their cortisol levels are higher. Lack of sleep generates the need to replace the missing energy through food in the brain.

  1. Sedentary lifestyle

Sedentary lifestyle – not exercising regularly is one of the leading causes of excess fat. The explanation is simple: the more energy expended, the less fat accumulated. If you are one of those who have a hard time going to the gym, you can try exercises at home with a fitball and start walking. One of the benefits of walking is reducing excess fat.

  1. Genetics

It is known that there is a gene responsible for excess fat. However, this occurs only in 5% of cases. Although determining precisely the weight of the influence of genetics in obesity is still something that science does not finish elucidating. Most research suggests this is one less factor. (2.3)

  1. Medications

Some medications adversely affect the normal metabolism of the body. Among these, antidepressants and corticosteroids stand out. Each of these drugs has a different influence. For example, antidepressants alter the way the body can assimilate fat. (5)

  1. Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are artificial chemicals that pollute the environment. Their danger lies in the fact that they can alter cellular signals involved in body weight, lipid homeostasis, and even fat distribution (8).

The most common are pesticides and some plastics. Numerous studies have associated exposure to endocrine disruptors with excess fat, classifying them as obesogens. (9)

How to combat excess fat?

As we can see, excess fat is very complex and determined by many causes, and many of them are modifiable.

Therefore, we must treat excess fat from a multidisciplinary perspective that includes nutrition strategies, physical activity, and mental and physical health.

As for food, it is about achieving a sustainable healthy eating pattern over time through changing habits. This means eating a healthy diet most of the time.

One way to combat the causes of overweight and obesity is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, water consumption, whole grains instead of refined ones, legumes, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy.

Reduce the consumption of foods high in saturated fat,  sodium, and sugar.

All this without neglecting the pleasure of eating, finding a healthy balance. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being; therefore, depriving ourselves of what we like and going to extremes cannot be considered healthy either.


  • The leading causes of excess fat are sweet foods, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor sleep.
  • Genetics plays a secondary role in 95% of cases.
  • Avoiding foods high in simple carbohydrates and fried is essential to lower the belly and reduce excess body fat.
  • Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise should be on the priority list for a person with excess fat.

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