5 common causes of obesity among Kenyans

high blood pressure

Obesity is an abnormal accumulation of body fat, usually 20% or more over an individual’s ideal body weight. Obesity is associated with increased risk of illness, disability and death.

Women whose body fat exceeds 30% and men whose body fat exceeds 25% are generally considered obese.

Twenty to forty percent over ideal weight is considered mildly obese; 40-100% over ideal weight is considered moderately obese; and 100% over ideal weight is considered severely, or morbidly obese.

Causes of obesity

1. Overeating


World Cup

In most people obesity is caused by eating too much and moving too little. Overeating leads to weight gain, especially if the diet is high in fat.

The energy value of food is measured in units called kilojoules. To maintain a healthy weight it is important to balance how many kilojoules you take in (from food and drink) with how many kilojoules you burn off.

2. A diet high in simple carbohydrates


Carbohydrates increase blood glucose levels, which in turn stimulate insulin release by the pancreas. Insulin promotes the growth of fat tissue and can cause weight gain.

3. Physical inactivity

If a person eats fewer calories than he or she metabolizes, he or she will lose weight. However, If you do not exercise regularly, you are bound to burn fewer calories than someone who is physically active.

If you are not active enough, you do not use the energy provided by the food you eat, and the extra kilojoules are stored as fat instead.

4. Existing medical conditions

For some people, a medical condition can cause you to gain weight. These conditions can make it nearly impossible to lose weight through exercise and nutrition alone.

They include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Insulin resistance
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Prader-Willi syndrome

On the other hand, some medicines used to control asthma, epilepsy, diabetes and depression can also cause weight gain.

5. Genetics


You are more likely to develop obesity if one or both of your parents are obese. Genetics also affect hormones involved in fat regulation. For example, one genetic cause of obesity is leptin deficiency. Leptin is a hormone produced in fat cells and in the placenta.

Leptin controls weight by signaling the brain to eat less when body fat stores are too high. If, for some reason, the body cannot produce enough leptin or leptin cannot signal the brain to eat less, this control is lost, and obesity occurs.


Are you or someone you know planning on travelling for medical treatment in India (or any other country overseas) for a chronic disease e.g. cancer, knee or hip replacement, liver or kidney transplant; wellness checkup or to improve your form, shape or appearance through cosmetic procedures or reconstructive surgery?

We can help you get there faster, easier and better prepared.

Contact us on (+254) 0711 104 458, e-mail or click here and we will call you back with more information.