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Will You Get Fat? Top 11 Reasons People Gain Weight (and it’s not what you think)

Okay, so this is a big debated multi and many times over answered question.

This post is not more about what causes you to get fat (which I will add a bit of) but will you get fat and what to look out for.

Genetics, genetics, genetics.

Is this true? Does genetics actually play a key role in weight and how much of a role?

Currently, they have found that 400 genes can contribute to what size you might be. Though, they say that less than a handful of those actually make a significant impact.

Genes can contribute to certain factors though, including how much it takes until you feel full (satiety), your appetite, metabolism, cravings for food, body-fat distribution, and stress eating.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Research suggests that for some people, genes account for just 25% of the predisposition to be overweight, while for others the genetic influence is as high as 70% to 80%.”

Genes can have serious role if:

  • You been overweight most of your life.
  • You can’t lose weight easily when you are working out and dieting.
  • One or both of your parents are considered overweight.

If you are any of the above then you can probably blame a good amount on genetics.

Now Genes contribute less towards being overweight if:

  • You eat because food is available.
  • If you diet and exercise you can lose weight normally.
  • You gain weight from stress, holidays, or have a significant change in your life.

Now if you are one or more 3 of the above then it shows you have some moderate genetic disposition to being overweight but it’s not something that is completely unmanageable.

Thrifty Genes

We all know that our ancestors stored fat for those times when food was scarce. “This evolutionary adaptation explains why most modern humans — about 85% of us — carry so-called thrifty genes, which help us conserve energy and store fat.” says Harvard Health.

Environmental Factors:

We next have environmental factors, which come from our surroundings. These are what influence our eating habits. Depending how you were raised can also be seen as genetic but really is environmental and contributed to how much and what you eat.

This can also take part before you were born, mothers who smoke or had diabetes can result in a child to be overweight adult.

Researchers believe this is the main reason that people are overweight.

Not to mention lack of exercise, and physical activity. We carry less, we do less, we walk less. Technology has caused everything to be easier, therefore, we fit in less physical activity each day.

Also, the fact that “screen time” is more extreme than ever. The average person watches 4 hours of TV a day! Not to mention the commercials for food, which make us want to eat. Food commercials average 11 times per 1 hour show.

Then of course there is stress, and related issues.

Now that that is out of the way, here are 10 more things that make it seem like we can’t win the war on fat, and what to watch out for.

What 10 Things Can Cause Weight Gain:

Now let’s get to what you need to look out for.

1. Starting College.

70 percent of college freshman eat less than 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day and eat fried foods 3x a week or more.

The “freshman 15” has been considered a myth, but that doesn’t mean they eat healthy. 70 percent gain weight but not 15 pounds like once thought, it’s actually an average of more like 3 pounds.

Also, males are more likely than females to gain weight in the first year of college.

Another reason not to feel bad about skipping college? Women in college are 36 times more likely to gain weight than women of the same age not in college. Yikes!

2. Being African American.

While pregnant, African Americans are 3x more likely to gain weight than those that are caucasian.

3. Holiday Season.

The big one for us all, and it’s coming up. Run! The amount of weight that we all gain over the stressful holiday season actually makes up a whopping 51 percent of weight for the whole year. Told ya we should run.

Then people who are already considered obese are 5x more likely to gain weight around the holiday season.

It’s not just the stress, but of course, the food, and the drinking that goes along with the holidays.

4. Child abuse can cause serious weight gain.

By age 27, those who were sexually abused as children are 3x more likely to be obese than those who weren’t. Now this is just awful.

5. Serious Relationships.

The term “letting yourself go” is real a thing and people are 4 times more likely to result in weight gain after being in a serious relationship.

6. Marriage.

33 percent of females will show minor weight gain after marriage, while 48 percent will experience major weight gain.

7. Divorce.

Men actually gain more weight after divorce, but women have a 22 percent chance of gaining weight after a divorce. That’s another thing you can blame on your ex.

8. Pregnancy.

Women aren’t the only ones who gain during pregnancy, there is actually something called “sympathy weight” and it’s a real thing. 48% of men actually experience this.

9. Quitting smoking.

Women are about equal to having a serious relationship with 4 times more likely to gain weight after quitting. Now men on the other hand, are more likely to gain 28 pounds or more after quitting!

Cigarettes react the same part of the brain as food, probably why having a cigarette after a big meal feels so great. Not that I would know.

10. Unemployment.

Now this one isn’t all gain, gain, gain considering 3 percent of men lost more than 10 percent of their original weight, but then again 8 percent ended up gaining weight.

This is because a job is a major part of our lives, and besides the obvious depression from not working, you no longer have something to keep you distracted from boredom eating.

11. Kids.

Last but not least, and definitely not least, no pun intended. Besides the obvious pounds pregnancy adds on to us, dads with kids are more overweight than that of their counterpart bachelors, and they don’t even get pregnant!

2011 study by Social Science and Medicine stated that parents by age 55, reach an obesity range BMI while the opposite end of the spectrum, those without rugrats, only reach a BMI considered overweight at the same age.

No fair and too late, there is no going back.


I guess at the end of the day, you have to watch out for….everything.


1. Racette, Susan B., et al. “Weight Changes, Exercise, and Dietary Patterns During Freshman and Sophomore Years of College.” Journal of American College Health, 53 (6), 245.

Hovell, M.F., et al. “Risk of Excess Weight Gain in University Women: A Three-Year Community Controlled Analysis.” Addictive Behaviors, 10 (1), 15-28.

Zagorsky, Jay L., and Smith, Patricia K. “The Freshman 15: A Critical Time for Obesity Intervention or Media Myth?” Social Science Quarterly, 92 (5), 1389-1407.

2. Gunderson, Erica, and Abrams, Barbara. “Epidemiology of Gestational Weight Gain and Body Weight Changes After Pregnancy.” Epidemiological Review, 22 (2), 261-74.

3. Baker, Raymond C., and Kirschenbaum, Daniel S. “Weight Control During the Holidays: Highly Consistent Self-Monitoring as a Potentially Useful Coping Mechanism.” Health Psychology, 17 (4), 376-370.

Roberts, S.B., and Mayer, J. “Holiday Weight Gain: Fact or Fiction?” Nutrition Review, 58 (12), 378-9.

4. Noll, Jennie G., et al. “Obesity Risk for Female Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Prospective Study.” Pediatrics, 120 (1), 61-67.

5. Ogden, Jane, et al. “Understanding the Role of Life Events in Weight Loss and Weight Gain.” Psychology, Health and Medicine, 14 (2), 239-249.

6. Shafrin, Jason and Gneezy, Uri. “Why Does Getting Married Make You Fat? Incentives and Appearance Maintenance,” a paper co-produced by a professor and doctoral student in the Rady School of Management and Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego, 2009.

Tumin, Dmitry, and Qian, Zhenchao. Research delivered at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association: Las Vegas, Aug. 22, 2011.

7. Tumin, Dmitry, and Qian, Zhenchao. Research delivered at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association: Las Vegas, August 22, 2011.

8. Reed, Richard K. Birthing Fathers: The Transformation of Men in American Rites of Birth. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005: page 68.

9. Williamson, D.F., et al. “Smoking Cessation and Severity of Weight Gain in a National Cohort.” New England Journal of Medicine, 324 (11), 739-45.

10. Morris, J.K., et al. “Non-employment and Changes in Smoking, Drinking, and Body Weight.” British Medical Journal, 304 (6826), 536-541.



  1. Hello! I like this alot. great list. want to see more about helpful diet tips. sorry english not my best.

    • That’s ok! We don’t mind, practice makes perfect! Yes, I will add more dieting tips. I have a lot, and I am working on at least 10 articles at the moment. I will get more out like this. I am glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
      XOXO Alanna

  2. In older people, we gain weight easy, you should put that one as well to your list.

    • Yes, you are right. I should definitely add a list item about menopause and how getting older causes weight gain as well. Thanks for the tip and the comment!
      XOXO Alanna

  3. I liked this, it actually takes in a variety of situations, some we may have heard of and some we didn’t!

    • Thank you so much! I try to implement different opinions that others haven’t always thought of. I want my blog to be different from the usual stuff. XOXO Alanna

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