Causes of Obesity

The development of obesity is a complex, multifactorial process and some of the identified causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Metabolic rate
  • Diet and exercise habits
  • Environmental factors
  • Psychological factors.

Obesity Comorbitities

Obesity is a major cause of preventable health conditions and mortality. There are many health conditions associated with being overweight or obese (Table 3). Morbid obesity is strongly associated with increased risk of disease and death. In Australia, obesity has been reported to be the cause of almost one-quarter of type 2 diabetes (23.8%*) and osteoarthritis (24.5%*), and around one-fifth of cardiovascular diseases (21.3%*) and colorectal, breast, uterine and kidney cancer (20.5%*).

Table 3. Diseases and conditions associated with obesity

Source: NHMRC, 2003.

* The underlying data used to derive these estimates were obtained from the National Health Survey self-reported data. Self-reported data tend to underestimate the true prevalence and incidence of the disease of interest. Therefore, it is likely that the presented numbers are on the lower range of true figures.