Biology or behavior : which is the strongest contributor to weight gain?
Combating unhealthy weight gain is a major public health and clinical management issue. The extent of research into the etiology and pathophysiology of obesity has produced a wealth of evidence regarding the contributing factors. While aspects of the environment are ‘obesogenic’, weight gain is not inevitable for every individual. What then explains potentially unhealthy weight gain in individuals living within an environment where others remain lean? In this paper we explore the biological compensation that acts in response to a reduced energy intake by reducing energy needs, in order to defend against weight loss. We then examine the evidence that there is only a weak biological compensation to surplus energy supply, and that this allows behavior to drive weight gain. The extent to which biology impacts behavior is also considered.
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