We know that losing weight usually means eating less and exercising more, but it’s also worth thinking about some of the lifestyle factors which can lead to putting on weight in the first place.
It might be bad habits relating to eating or lack of exercise, or it could be issues stemming from an individual’s circumstances in life...
Weight gain is a side effect of many drugs. The most-common drugs that can cause weight gain include steroids, antipsychotic drugs and insulin.
Never stop taking prescribed medication unless your doctor or specialist has told you to. If you're concerned about weight gain, talk to your doctor.
Lack of sleep
Sleep is central to good physical and mental health. Some research suggests a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain by accumulating fats in your body and making you feel hungry.
In one study of healthy men, being deprived of just two hours sleep caused them to crave sugar and eat more of it. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and take steps to remedy the situation if not.
Food labelled 'low-fat'
Take a walk down any aisle in your local supermarket and you'll see fat-free desserts, low-fat biscuits and calorie-counted ready meals. Lots of foods are labelled "low-fat" but in fact contain high levels of sugar.
High-sugar foods also contain lots of calories and can lead you to gain weight. For example, a "low-fat" muffin may contain more calories than a currant bun. Make sure you read the labels and look at the overall energy and calories.
When you’re under stress or feeling depressed, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol and your appetite increases, triggering food cravings and tempting you to reach for sugary snacks. Do this often, and you may put on weight.
Instead, choose fruit and veg for your snacks and other low-calorie options such as plain popcorn, crackers and rice cakes. To prevent stress from sabotaging your efforts to lose or maintain weight, find ways to cope with stressful situations that don't involve food, e.g. Exercise, deep breathing, yoga or meditation.
Sitting down for long periods, for example watching a lot of television or sitting for hours at the computer, can make it hard to keep weight under control.
While sitting down, many of us consume calories we don't need and find it too easy to snack on energy-dense foods such as crisps and chocolate.
If you're worried about your weight, take part in more daily physical activity - try walking to work, on the school run or to the shops and spend less time in front of the TV or computer.
Over the last few decades, the size of portions served in restaurants and supermarket packages has increased. A study by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found that burgers, for example, have doubled in size since 1980.
Not surprisingly, research shows that when we're given a larger portion, we tend to eat more. Coping with larger portion sizes is a matter of stopping when you feel full.
Eat slowly and you'll have a better chance of avoiding that over-stuffed feeling. At home, serve yourself a smaller portion and think about whether you really want a second helping.
Your metabolism slows down as you grow older so it’s natural for your body to burn fewer calories. Ageing also causes changes in lifestyle and you may find you exercise less.
Many people, therefore, make more effort to get regular exercise and follow a healthy, balanced diet as they get older.
For more information, go to www.nhs.uk/Livewell.
These articles are for information purposes. Please follow the advice of your clinician / health professional if you have a specific health and wellbeing issue.