Weight gain and weight loss difficulties (Part 1)

Kanya Said

By Kanya Said:

With the new year starting not long ago a lot of people have now started to work on their “New Year Resolution” list and its most common promise: to lose weight.

Most of us have some excess weight that puts us in the overweight class in standards of BMI and it would be better for our health to lose that extra adipose/fat tissue that we are carrying around. To do this a person has to increase his energy expenditure compared to his food intake. A common way is to change your diet. When we start a diet we often wonder: “How did I end up here? How could I gain so much weight?” There are many reasons that cause the increasing weights seen worldwide, and not least in Kurdistan.

The individual choice of lifestyle is the most powerful one where we choose what to eat and when to exercise. We can gain weight if we choose to eat more and work out less.

The society is also to blame for following the trend of serving large amounts of food available at all times. Unfortunately it has become a strong culture to go out and eat several times a week in Kurdistan. The only places for youth and families to gather and socialize are during dinners and café visits. The longer you sit together the more you eat and lose count of calories.

At the same time the society is not working to make exercise a daily routine among the citizens and there are few opportunities to go outside for a work out. Many apartment areas offer simple exercise tools but it is still not an accepted culture among most Kurds to use them, especially among women where exercising is seen as something too private to do in public. This negative attitude, to something very normal, is showing its effect in the weight gain seen among the people.

Nevertheless, genetic factors also have a strong impact on our weight. This is inherited from our parents and as we inherit our length we also inherit our weight. Studies show that most identical twins, whether they grow up together or apart, have the same body structure and are in the same weight class, which indicates a strong genetic factor.

So what are the factors that affect our body weight?

There are many factors that control our weight. Among these are:

Psychological factors:

Depression– makes us want to eat more to suppress depressive thoughts and keep the mind busy with food instead.

Stress– Many of us seek food and deal with stress by filling our mouths with food or keeping busy with chewing food as a way to cope with the stress that otherwise makes us unsecure and worried. This is a dangerous way of dealing with stress because daily life is more and more stressful and, if we use food as a comfort, we can gain weight which increases the stress of trying to lose weight. A bad cycle develops.

Reward-seeking”- Food that is fat or sweet, especially combined, is in our genetic program to give us a sense of reward. When we eat these things we feel good about it and we want more of it. This is something that has developed during evolution because the children that were the fondest of their mother’s milk, which is fat and sweet, were the ones who got more energy and survived longer. Therefore this quality has survived through generations. At the same time it’s worth mentioning that this is also the reason why children don’t like vegetables that are more bitter in taste, because evolution made those who stayed away from bitter tastes, that most poisonous food have, survive. We learn to like vegetables because we learn from our parents that it is healthy and good and so we look past the signals and get used to the taste.

Physiological factors:

Food intake– We eat more and more. The plates are getting bigger and serving of a lot of food is seen as generosity. More available food and economics makes us eat more than ever before.

Energy expenditure– Working out is seen as privilege nowadays for those who have time or can afford to go to a gym. Different types of work such as being at an office in front of a computer all day make it hard to exercise and get rid of the energy intake. We are going towards a society with more food intake and less activity.


As mentioned, we inherit our weight as we inherit our length. A person can have an inclination to gain weight more easily than losing it.


Access to food– We have easy access to get food all the time with most food being fast food that is very unhealthy for us.

Society- We gather and eat at all times of the day. It’s a way of getting friends and family together

Lifestyle- We have less time to exercise because of a busy schedule. We chose to eat or relax instead of exercising.

Stress-induced factors– Today’s society contains more stress and work than ever.

So it is not that strange that we gain weight because of all these factors – and in the Kurdish culture they are very strong.

It is not a weakness to gain weight and this shows why it is so hard to lose weight. We have these factors upon us all the time and stepping away from some of the weight-loss barriers that have been set up by the society is very hard. But it can be done with a strong will.

Knowing the reasons that make us gain weight, and being conscious of our behaviour, can help us to lose weight.

Here is how to see what weight category you are in:

Your BMI:


BMI Weight Category
18.5 and Under Underweight
18.6-24.9 Normal
25-29.9 Overweight
30+ Obese


  • Part 2 – the Set-Point Theory

Kanya Said is a Dentistry and Medical student at Göteborg University, Sweden. Originally from Slemani, Kurdistan, her aim is to return home and help in the development and improvement of the Health Care system in her homeland. Kanya is currently, besides her Medical studies, writing a series of books; the first one being a ‘Manual of Medicine’ in the Kurdish language, and she is planning her Master degree within immunology and nutrition.

Copyright © 2012 Kurdistantribune.com

One Response to Weight gain and weight loss difficulties (Part 1)
  1. Raz
    January 18, 2013 | 22:27

    Read the article with a lot of interest. Sound analysis.

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