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Is Obesity a Choice? Here Is What Science Says

It turns out, there is only so much you can do.

Is obesity a choice? According to Jeff Nippard, that is simply not the case and he backs it up with scientific studies.

Jeff Nippard is a natural professional bodybuilder who shares tips and training programs on his YouTube channel. In the video at the bottom of this article, he poses the question: is obesity a choice?

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. Check out the breakdown of Nippard’s argument below.

Is Obesity a Choice?

So, is obesity a choice? “People know about the potential health risks and social stigma that can come with being obese, so virtually no one would consciously choose to be obese,” Nippard argues, saying that this question is difficult to answer, but most answers provided are a bit simplistic.

is obesity a choice

More closer to reality is the idea of lifelong small decisions that add up that could make someone obese. For example, choosing a bigger portion of fries, fried instead of grilled chicken, and sitting on a couch and watching TV instead of taking long walks on a weekend. But this, according to Nippard, is an analysis still incomplete.

A study made with 24 people who were 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. Genetic differences are probably the main factor that explains this as a study from 2018 shows there is a large difference in how many calories people burn at rest. This means one person could lose 400 calories more than someone else in one day even if they both did no exercise at all.

Read More: What is Caloric Deficit and How Much Is It Safe?

People also burn calories through NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis – daily activities that aren’t actual exercise, such as tapping your feet, fidgeting, etc. “NEAT is still largely subconsciously regulated in the brain and it’s dynamic,” and can differ enormously between individuals which can dictate if you lose more or fewer calories.

Another big factor according to research is hunger because some people experience more of it than others, regardless of what type of eating habit is presented. A 2013 study showed a big disparity among individuals who went on a high-fat diet, or low-fat diet, after a meal. And hunger level is what dictates if a person is going to eat more or not.

Reduce Hunger while dieting

There are still other biological factors that answer the question: is obesity a choice? Whether or not you take medications that can increase appetite and water retention, neuroendocrine conditions that impact weight gain through hormones and metabolism, pregnancy and menopause which have hormonal and metabolic impacts, and physical disabilities which make burning calories through NEAT and exercise more challenging.

Ultimately, yes, a person is obese if it eats more calories than it burns after a long period. However, many factors dictate that avoiding that sustained surplus is much harder for some people than others for reasons beyond their choosing.

“This is why I think it’s incorrect to reduce all these factors down to a simple choice or not,” Nippard concludes.

Other factors that Nippard also explains are environmental factors (flashier advertisements of cheaper high-calorie food), social factors (the type of diet your family and friends eat), lifestyle factors (how much and how well you sleep, less sleep means you have a higher chance of being obese), psychological factors (stress and depression is a risk factor for weight gain).

So, is obesity a choice? Nippard uses his science-backed arguments to say that it is not. If you want a better explanation in his own words, check out Nippard’s video below.

VIDEO – Is Obesity a Choice?

Read More: How to Burn More Calories Lifting Weights

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