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Things (Besides Food) That Can Make You Fat -- Being Overweight May Not Be Your Fault!

Updated on May 7, 2019
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C. E. Clark believes it is her duty and responsibility as a researcher and writer to bring important information to her readers.

Being Fat Is Not Your Fault

People and animals are both subject to their DNA or genetics.  Some people are programmed to be overweight or fat.
People and animals are both subject to their DNA or genetics. Some people are programmed to be overweight or fat. | Source

Most People Are NOT to Blame for Being Fat

There are many things that can cause a person to be overweight or obese, and many of them are not easy to control. Efforts to control them will have limited success at best.

While many people like to demean and sneer at fat people for not having control of their eating habits, the facts are that some things are beyond the control of anyone.

If you do not suffer from these issues that more often than not cause people to be fat, count your blessings instead of criticizing.

While fat has been demonized by many people and organizations, the truth is that we all need some fat and sometimes, believe it or not, overweight people have the advantage and actually live longer and healthier lives. Read about why that is so at the end of this article just before the list of references for the information contained here.

Following is a short list of conditions, medications, and other issues that can cause people to put on excess fat. This list is by no means comprehensive. To make this list comprehensive I would have to write a book.

Genetics Play a Big Part In Your Body's Predisposition to Put On Weight

Example of a DNA strand built from Legos
Example of a DNA strand built from Legos | Source
Just like our height, the color of our eyes, hair, and skin, our predisposition to size/weight is hereditary.
Just like our height, the color of our eyes, hair, and skin, our predisposition to size/weight is hereditary. | Source

Genetics Can Make You Fat

That’s right. Your genes can make you too fat for your jeans! Or at least too fat for the jeans you would like to fit into. We are all a product of our genetics and none of us (so far as anyone knows) get to choose our genetic makeup.

Everyone knows at least one reed thin person who eats more than a horse and a cow put together, yet they remain reed thin. That is most likely genetics at work, although it could also be a metabolism issue due to other causes. Even though metabolism issues can be the result of environmental factors, most of the time metabolism issues are a result of genetics.

Then there are people who hear the word food, or any word relating to food, or perhaps they smell food cooking, and instantly 10 additional pounds adhere to their hips. That too, is usually genetic.

Life is not fair. Why should some people be able to eat anything and everything nonstop and remain thin, or at least what is considered normal weight, while other people put on weight at the very thought of food? It is not a matter of choice, but genetics. Most people gain weight easily – or not – as a result of genetics, and none of us chose our genes nor can we control them.

So why are so many people intent on making us feel guilty for the genetics we inherited through no fault of our own? Perhaps some of you reading this who find fat people disgusting could explain that in the comments section of this hub . . .

Gut Bacteria

Example of bacteria in your stomach
Example of bacteria in your stomach | Source

As scientists work out the details by which out gut bacteria make us fat, health mandarins need to look beyond the simplistic calories in/calories out mantra for explanations of the obesity epidemic. (Sharon Begley, The Daily Beast Health)

Scientists know that hundreds of species of bacteria live in the gut and an average person carries about 5 pounds (2 kg) worth. (Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor for Reuters.)

Chinese scientists reported in the journal “Nature” that they found 1,000 different species [of bacteria] in human intestines. (Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor for Reuters.)

Studies suggest that the diversity of bacterial species in our guts partially determines how efficiently our cells process and store food, and that in a feedback loop, what we eat alters the demographics of the bacteria in our intestines. (Ferris Jar, Scientific American)

Germs Can Make You Fat

Sharon Begley, writing for the Health section of The Daily Beast (Newsweek) reports that there are a gazillion studies that show, “The calories that matter are not simply the number printed on grocery items, fast-food menus, and those guilt-inducing signs next to Starbucks’ brownies. The calories that count are those extracted by your digestive enzymes and—as more and more research is showing—the trillions of bacteria in your intestine.”

Begley says that all those studies show that like everything else, all bacteria are not created equal. Some bacteria digest carbohydrates and fats in your diet better than other bacteria do. The better your bacteria are at digesting these macronutrients, the more calories your body will absorb!

Example: If you and your neighbor have relatively the same metabolisms, but your neighbor’s gut and intestine contain more efficient bacteria than yours do, your neighbor can eat exactly the same diet containing the same number of calories that you do, except your neighbor may be ‘fluffy,’ (fat) because your neighbor’s bacteria do a better job of digesting the macronutrients and therefore your neighbor’s body absorbs more calories.

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are called macronutrients because they should make up the largest part and the main part of your diet. They are the nutrients that benefit your body most providing energy and maintenance (growth and repair).

Jeffrey Gordon and some of his colleagues of Washington University reported in “Nature,” (a science journal), that slim and obese mice have different types of bacteria in their guts. Most importantly they determined in their many studies that “the bacteria caused obesity, rather than obesity producing a specific mix of bacteria. When the scientists plucked bacteria called Firmicutes from obese mice, then put them in the bacteria-free guts of mice raised in a sterile environment, the latter bulked up within 10 to 14 days—even though they ate less.”

Another consideration of Gordon and his associates is that gut bacteria may contribute to obesity and Type 2 Diabetes because they may alter the immune system.

With no progress being made in the fight against obesity, Randy Seeley, an obesity researcher at the University of Cincinnati, says he believes it is a “distinct possibility” that things in our environment, such as food and drugs and other things are causing much of the obesity problem.

A recent study (June 2010) by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and America’s Health showed that obesity rates had gone up in 28 states and had gone down in none, even though many people are dieting and trying genuinely to lose weight.

There are a number of videos on YouTube that explain how gut bacteria can cause obesity. They are all water marked and so I cannot post them here for your convenience, however putting the words “stomach bacteria causes obesity” in the search box should bring up a good selection of them if you wish to learn more on this subject. There are also references at the end of this article.

Pesticides and Herbicides Are On All but Organic Produce - Residue May Remain and Get Into Processed Foods

Crop dusters cannot control the drift of their chemicals that are spread by air currents and wind beyond their targeted area.
Crop dusters cannot control the drift of their chemicals that are spread by air currents and wind beyond their targeted area. | Source

Has human anatomy changed? No, but food has changed a lot. Foods that were healthy 50 years ago may not necessarily be healthy in 2010. (CBS NEWS)

We produce six billion pounds of the obesogen BPA every year and it's detectable in 93 percent of Americans. (CBS NEWS)

BPA is an ingredient in the lining of cans that leaches into foods and interferes with the hormones that tell your body when it's full. (CBS News)

Pesticides and Other Food Additives Can Make You Fat

Stephen Perrine, author of, “New American Diet,” says pesticides, plastic pollutants, antibiotics, and growth hormones (also referred to as obesogens because they make you obese) are being put in our food and they are causing us to gain weight. He says toxins in our food are causing obesity and excess weight in general.

CBS News reports that Perrine stated on the “Early Show,” that the American Medical Association agrees that the above-mentioned chemicals in our food play a “significant role in our national obesity crisis.”

Which foods are the greatest offenders? Perrine lists nonorganic fruits and vegetables as well as farm raised fish, beef, poultry, pork, etc., as being laden with pesticides and/or growth hormones.

Plastic compounds can be found in the linings of canned drinks, sports drinks, and even baby formula. Also, they are found in the linings of canned tomatoes, tuna, soup, and beans. In the case of tuna, these plastic compounds that leach into it from the plastic lining in the cans should be avoided by buying tuna in pouches instead of cans.

Researchers from 10 different universities including Johns Hopkins and Yale School of Medicine believe that steroid hormones in meat from conventional dairy farms were very probably contributing to the obesity epidemic in this country.

Beef raised in today’s conventional way, fed soy and corn, which are considered obesogens due to the pesticides and other chemicals in them, are also injected with 6 different steroids – which are also obesogens! The typical steak has 7 and a half times more fat than a normal steak should have as a result.

Most Americans are exposed to 10-13 different pesticides in their food, drinking water, and other beverages every single day! Of the 10 most common pesticides found on or in food, 9 of them are “endocrine-disrupting,” and have been correlated to weight gain.

Chemicals in general, and pesticides specifically, can have a number of different affects on our bodies, some which may not even be known yet.

Perhaps the scariest affect of some pesticides is that they mimic estrogen, the so-called female hormone. Estrogen undermines our body’s ability to build lean muscle and promotes fat storage. We get a shot of that every time we ingest pesticides from fresh fruits and vegetables, or processed foods that were treated in the growing process with pesticides, or plastic residue that has leeched into the food in plastic containers.

Artificial Sweeteners Can Make You Fat

That’s right. All those artificial sweetener laden diet drinks, and artificial sweeteners you added to your food thinking they would help hold your weight down, or help you lose weight, can do just the opposite.

Holly Strawbridge, Executive Editor of the Harvard Heart Letter writing for Harvard Medical School Publications writes, “. . . use of artificial sweeteners can make you shun healthy, filling, and highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value.”

Artificial sweeteners are actually fed to livestock to fatten them up for market! Read more about that in the article “Diet Drinks Can Make You Fat.”

Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, and stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite.

Cortisol is also known as the "stress hormone" because an excess of cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress, so that the normal pattern of cortisol is changed from what is normal for you. The interruption of your normal pattern of cortisol secretion can actually promote weight gain, and it can also affect where you put the weight on! (

Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin — a hormone that regulates the absorption of sugar (glucose) by cells.

Weight gain may also be related to other complex functions of insulin in the body related to how cells use fats and proteins. (

Physical Conditions That Can Make You Fat

Jene Luciani, writing for says that food sensitivity may make you fat. Food sensitivity is not the same thing as an allergy to particular foods, Luciani says, but food sensitivities can cause your body to react adversely by causing your body to produce more cortisol and insulin.

Generally food sensitivities are not life threatening, but can nevertheless cause discomfort by causing headaches, bloating, fatigue, and they can cause your body to store more than the usual amount of fat.

Luciani says more and more celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus are learning what foods they are sensitive to and cutting them out of their diets.

“Nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin, co-host of TLC's Freaky Eaters, [says] 70 percent of [all] people have some type of food sensitivity, the most common culprits being dairy, wheat, sugar, corn, soy, peanuts, and eggs.” Virgin also says, ‘"This immune reaction also paradoxically makes them [food sensitive people] crave the very foods that are hurting them thus creating a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of."’

Here are some other diseases and conditions that can cause you to gain weight, or make it difficult to impossible to lose weight. Sometimes hormonal imbalance is part of the condition, and sometimes the increase in certain hormones will make you feel hungry even when your body does not require food, or can make your hunger difficult to satisfy. This list is by no means comprehensive, but should give you an idea of some of the many conditions that can cause weight gain and retention.

Hypothyroid Disease


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Stress (Cortisol production increases)

Cushing’s Disease

Insulin Resistance



Insufficient Sleep

For more information on how lack of sleep can affect your weight and your health read, "Not Enough Sleep Can Make You Fat!"

Antihistamines increase your appetite and are often sedating, says James Roerig, associate professor of clinical neuroscience at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Fargo. ( Some name brands included in this group of drugs are Allegra, Zyrtec.

Dr. Cheskin calls the weight-promoting effect of insulin paradoxical. "The things that we use to treat some conditions that are the result of obesity, like [type 2] diabetes, are prone to make you more obese," he says. (

Medications That Can Make You Fat

Carina Stores, writing for, points out that many of the drugs used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes (all obesity related conditions) cause weight gain and retention.

Here is a list of some medications that can and often do cause weight gain:

Paxil – an antidepressant used to treat anxiety.

Prozac (fluoxetine) – an antidepressant that usually causes weight loss, but over the long haul can actually cause weight gain.

Remeron (mirtazapine) – an antidepressant, but sometimes given to elderly people to improve their appetite.

Depakote or Valproic acid -- used to treat bipolar disorder and seizures, and prevent migraines.

Zyprexa (olanzapine) – an antipsychotic drug used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This drug can really pile on the pounds.

Steroids and Oral corticostoroid drugs in high dosages for asthma and inflammatory bowel disease are known to have caused weight gain in 60-80% of its users.

Thorazine (chlorpromazine) – antipsychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar conditions increases appetite and sedates a person so that they are less alert and more inclined to be sedentary.

Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip (amitriptyline) – used to treat deptression and migrain headaches, can cause heart damage in addition to excessive weight gain.

Diabinese, Insulase, Actos, and Prandin – used to treat type2 diabetes increase appetite.

Insulin – used to treat type2 diabetes. Most of the weight gain occurs in the first 3 months of treatment.

Inderal, Tenormin, and Lopressor – used to treat high blood pressure. These drugs are beta-blockers that slow calorie burning and cause fatigue. Some of the newer beta-blocker drugs are believed to cause less weight gain.

Birth Control medications

A Japanese study of over 600 centenarians found that many of those who made it to 100 were quite chubby in their 50s. (Jerome Burne, The Daily Mail)

The dangers of obesity have been highly exaggerated,’ (Lucy Aphramor., NHS dietician at Coventry University, London)

To lose 1 pound of weight, you need to burn off 3,500 more calories than you take in. Cut just 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound in a week, or 1,000 calories per day to lose 2 pounds in a week. (WebMD)

Why You Need Some Fat to Be Healthy

Fat does a lot of things for us that are positive and necessary. It protects our organs, stores energy from the food we eat so it is available to us as needed at a later time, and even keeps us warm. According to WebMD, “Body fat also houses the chemical reactions that manage growth and the immune system. Within our fat, hormones and proteins talk to one another to keep the body running.”

Fat acts as the body’s power station and can actually sense bacterial and viral attacks. When an attack is expected fat cells work together to produce proteins that will fight the intruders. In addition, fat provides necessary energy to the body to keep fighting infection, which is especially important in the case of a chronic infection, (Jerome Burne, The Daily Mail; Mail Online).

In addition to that, our hair and our skin look healthy and glowing when we eat enough fat. Fatty acids are part of the makeup of hair, (WebMD).

Everyone needs some fat to stay healthy. It is not fat that is so much unhealthy as it is being UNFIT. Exercising and keeping active will go a long way towards staying fit and healthy even when you are a little bit overweight.

Catherine Collins, chief dietitian at St George’s Hospital London says, “being a bit plump can increase bone density, due to the extra load you are carrying, which can help prevent brittle bones, particularly in older women.”

Collins further states that she would rather see people in their 40s and 50s a little overweight rather than underweight because being a bit overweight at this stage of life can provide you a “reserve” that can keep you alive longer. Fat also acts as a reserve for vitamins and minerals that may be needed to counter malnutrition in later years.

An article in the Nutritionist Journal authored by Lucy Aphramor and other experts on obesity say that “Obese patients are less than half as likely to die in the three years after treatment for a heart attack as patients with a normal body mass index.”

References – Food sensitivity can make you fat

Medications that cause weight gain,,20545602,00.html on Cortisol and stress

Drugs and conditions that can cause obesity

Why a little extra fat may be good for you.

Reasons you may be fat

Weight bias

ABC NEWS gut germs can make you fat

Pesticides and other chemical additives cause obesity


UCLA Study



© 2013 C E Clark


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