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It’s not lack of your willpower: Obesity is a recognized disease, a manageable one with many causes


It’s not lack of your willpower: Obesity is a recognized disease, a manageable one with many causes


The prevalence of obesity is rising worldwide. In India, it is increasing faster than the global average. This rise in obesity-affected persons may not be all due to a loss of willpower. Will power should not be considered a sole responsible for weight; it depends on many internal and external factors   

generally accepted perception is that obese people are entirely responsible for their condition. However, it does not hold any ground in reality. Obesity has many causes, some of which are beyond the control of a person. Obesity, like any other condition, depends upon number of factors. To name a few, genes, biology, psychology, stress, hormones, and environment play a crucial role in it. It is also common side effect reported with many medications, such as anti-diabetics, antidepressants, and antipsychotic1-5 drugs.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH)6, obesity is a medical condition caused by energy imbalances (which can result from excessive energy intake and/or reduced energy expenditure), endocrine medical conditions (e.g. diabetes or thyroid related), and certain medicines (e.g. anti-depressants, antipsychotics, diabetes drugs). Obesity can cause further complications, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancers, and sleep disorders.4-6 

 People living with obesity usually blame themselves for not making the right decisions to meet their weight goals. They try to eat less and work out more, and if they don’t succeedthey perceive that it is their failure. However, its not true. Obesity is not affected by the lack of one’s willpower. It has been proven that weight is controlled by many processes. Just like any other disease, obesity develops over a period of time. There are many reasons for this, some of which are beyond our conscious awareness or control.7-9

To manage obesity effectively, the first step is to understand and identify the role-playing causes. These underlying causes may vary from individual to individual.10 Scheduling an appointment with a doctor to create a personalized treatment plan is an important step to effectively manage obesity, like any other disease. 


  1. Wright SM, Aronne LJ. Causes of obesity. Abdom Imaging. 2012 Oct;37(5):730-732.  
  2. HealthdirectObesity [Internet] [cited 2021 Feb 20]. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/obesity. 
  3. Mitri J, Hamdy O. Diabetes medications and body weight. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2009 Sep;8(5):573-584. 
  4. Ness-Abramof R, Apovian CM. Drug-induced weight gain. Drugs Today (Barc). 2005 Aug;41(8):547-555. 
  5. Shrivastava A, Johnston ME. Weight-gain in psychiatric treatment: Risks, implications, and strategies for prevention and management. Mens Sana Monogr. 2010 Jan-Dec;8(1):53-68.  
  6. NIH. Overweight and obesity. [Internet] [cited 2021 Feb 20]. Available fromhttps://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/overweight-and-obesity. 
  7. Berthoud HR, Münzberg H, Morrison CD. Blaming the brain for obesity: Integration of hedonic anhomeostatic mechanismsGastroenterology. 2017 May;152(7):17281738. 
  8. Kaplan L, Golden A, Jinnett K, et al. Perceptions of barriers to effective obesity care: Results from the National ACTION Study. Obesity. 2018 Jan;26(1):6169. 
  9. Puhl RM, Heuer CA. Obesity stigma: Important considerations for public healthAm J Public Health. 2010 Jun;100(6):1019-1028. 
  10. Yumuk V, Tsigos C, Fried M, et al. European Guidelines for Obesity Management in Adults. Obes Facts. 2015;8(6):402-424. 

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