Rising global overweight and obesity rates are typically attributed to overconsumption and a lack of movement. However, new research highlights the far more complex combination of lifestyle choices and challenges that cause weight gain.
In a survey of over 100,000 users of Able, a health coaching app that tailors personal programs to each individual to help them achieve their goals, users most commonly attributed their weight gain to stress (24.5%), family life (12.5%), medication (11.7%) and work (10.9%). Likewise, 57.7% of overweight people get just five to seven hours of sleep each night, with poor sleep quality a major risk factor for obesity.
Data shows that diet does play a role, but more so due to what people consume, rather than how much. Some 79.3% of respondents stated that they eat three or fewer meals daily. However, 26.8% most commonly consume sweet foods throughout the day. Likewise, 19.2% regularly eat fried food, 16.6% consume caffeine and 9.3% drink alcohol, all of which have been linked to weight gain.
The survey also found that many users signing up to Able had debilitating health conditions that can impact the ability to lose weight. Some 12% of females and 2% of males reported suffering from depression and anxiety. Likewise, 6% of women and 1% of men had insomnia, while 4% of women and 1% of men reported being asthmatic. In addition, 6% of women reported hormonal issues.
“The human body is intricate and reaching our optimal weight is never so straightforward as moving more and eating less,” Roman Taranov, CEO and founder of Able said. “As this data shows, it’s often not for lack of trying, but to achieve results you really must consider each person’s body, mind and situation. With an action plan that targets the specific factors that impact an individual, no reasonable weight loss goal is unachievable.”
Hoping to improve their health (23.9%), feel good (21.5%) and live longer (16.7%), almost a third of users had tried gym exercise. Similarly, 24.4% had tried a restrictive diet and a further 21.2% attempted a fitness-focused diet. However, losing weight requires addressing the various factors that impact our body, from diet to rest to medication, while staying motivated and working around our busy schedules.
The survey data was collected from more than 100,000 people who submitted responses to the intake questionnaire for Able’s weight loss program. Overall, 57% were aged over 50 and 20% under 30. Women made up 81% of respondents.