Other Factors in Weight Gain

A variety of factors such as behavior, environment, genetics, and sleep patterns may have an effect in causing people to have overweight and obesity.


People may make decisions based on their environment or community. For example, a person may choose not to walk to the store or to work because of a lack of sidewalks. Communities, homes, and workplaces can all influence people’s health decisions. Because of this influence, it is important to create environments in these locations that make it easier to engage in physical activity and to eat a healthy diet.

Places in your area may support physical activities, from parks, trails, and sidewalks to recreation and fitness centers. Even malls provide opportunities for fitness walking. Understanding environmental opportunities and barriers that we face in our pursuit for a healthy lifestyle may provide some of the knowledge necessary to promote healthy living. This information may also provide ideas for advocacy and civic participation.

For more information on how you can support a positive environment for physical activity in your community, visit: Community Physical Activity Strategies.


Genetics can directly cause obesity in specific disorders such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome.

However genes do not always predict future health. Genes and behavior may both be needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases, multiple genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors such as abundant food supply or little physical activity.

For more information, visit Obesity and Genetics: A Public Health Perspective.

Diseases and Drugs

Some illnesses may lead to obesity or weight gain. These may include Cushing’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain.

A doctor is the best source to tell you whether illnesses, medications, or psychological factors are contributing to weight gain or making weight loss hard.

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