I am not obese myself as I've always been interested in sports since childhood, and put effort into living a healthy and active lifestyle. However, obesity is clearly a growing issue worldwide (no pun intended) and in a lot of countries it seems to be fast becoming the norm socially to be overweight.

Sometimes I see articles or listen to people on TV or radio trying to explain away obesity through unspecified medical conditions, genetics, food additives etc. As a sceptical person, I find these reasons hard to believe when, to my knowledge, the only way for a human body to gain weight is by consuming more calories than is burned off on a regular basis (a calorie surplus).

Can anyone explain if it's possible for someone to be overweight or obese and it have a genuine medical explanation, and not simply a consequence of poor diet and/or lifestyle choices. I understand that conditions such as diabetes make it harder for someone to manage their diet, but I wouldn't class this as a reason for being obese in itself (clearly not every diabetic is obese).

  • For clarity, this isn't mean to be an attack on obese people. I am trying to confirm my opinion that it isn't possible to medically justify being overweight. Aug 31, 2018 at 10:46
  • I think your focus on "justification" is a bit of a problem here, particularly if you are trying to not offend. I think what you are really trying to ask is whether obesity can be a consequence of medical conditions: that's a much gentler approach than talking about "justification" which carries a connotation of judgment.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 31, 2018 at 15:34
  • .... to my knowledge, the only way for a human body to gain weight is by consuming more calories than is burned off on a regular basis (a calorie surplus)....". I am not saying this is irrelevant, but it is outdated. Humans are rarely just like a test tube or a bomb calorimeter so that such facile calculations can be made. We are an organism with many interactions, plus we each present unique characteristics, and this is why the study of medicine is difficult.
    – Gordon
    Aug 31, 2018 at 16:41
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    @BryanKrause Fair point, I will edit the question to remove "justification" Aug 31, 2018 at 17:33
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    You may be interested in this article too. There does appear to be a social dynamic, see the UK study embedded herein. This is long-winded, but it may interest you. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5639963
    – Gordon
    Aug 31, 2018 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


As far as medical conditions, it could be a thyroid problem, or the need to encourage serotonin, and I am sure many other things a doctor would know about so ask a doctor.

Another article: magnesium & obesity https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/pubag/downloadPDF.xhtml?id=46295&content=PDF People should be aware it is calcium, Vitamin D ratio with magnesium! Vitamin D can overwork magnesium to metabolize vitamin D and we have people taking some high doses of vitamin D. Most Americans get too much calcium in ratio to magnesium. Etc. Bottom line, most people need more magnesium through diet preferably, and probably supplements too. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180226122548.htm. People with kidney disease should ask a doctor before taking a magnesium supplement. Always tell your doctor about the supplements you are taking at each visit, if any; very important.

  • This might be a good answer but it could use some work. It starts off recommending a book about magnesium. Why? I think you need to explain your reasoning before recommending books.
    – Carey Gregory
    Sep 1, 2018 at 2:08
  • @CareyGregory Yes, it's disorganized to say the least. They were comments I quickly made into an answer. I will attempt to fix it.
    – Gordon
    Sep 1, 2018 at 2:33
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    @CareyGregory Thanks for reminding me about book recommendations. I took it off. Then I will try to make the rest of it more organized.
    – Gordon
    Sep 1, 2018 at 3:01

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