What is the Role of Carbohydrates in Obesity?

Role of Carbohydrates in Obesity

Obesity is a global epidemic with a majority of the world’s population in developed countries being overweight or obese! Carbohydrates are often vilified for their role in weight gain. But do carbohydrates really make you gain weight? Here we  tell you about the role of carbohydrates in obesity. Read on!

In 2016, over 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese. In 2016, 39% of adults aged 18 years and above (39% of men and 40% of women) were overweight. About 13% of the world’s adult population (11% of men and 15% of women) was reported to be obese in 2016.

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair your health. It is a disease responsible for many conditions ranging from hypertension and stroke to type 2 diabetes and cancer. It causes serious chronic illnesses that reduce the quality of life but also increases the risk of premature deaths.

People having a BMI of 30.0 or higher, falls within the obese range. BMI or Body Mass Index is a measure of body fat depending on the height and weight of a person.

Causes of obesity

Unhealthy diet and nutrition are the most important factors responsible for an increased incidence in the number of overweight or obese people.


Although genetic, metabolic, social, cultural and environmental factors can lead to obesity, the major cause of obesity and increased weight is the consumption of energy-dense and high-calorie foods such as fats and sugar. Physical inactivity is also a contributing factor. All these lead to energy imbalance or excess energy, which gets stored in the body as fat.

What is the role of carbohydrates in obesity?

Studies show that the quality rather than the number of carbohydrates determine whether a person gains weight or not. Thus, if you are someone you quickly put on weight, you should refrain from eating white bread, pasta, chips, processed foods, cakes and cookies. This is because these foods have a high glycemic index that causes a sudden increase in blood sugar. This increased blood sugar, if not utilized by the body, builds up as fat.

Similarly, processed carbohydrates or high-calorie sugars increase the risk of diabetes and cardiac diseases, besides causing obesity. A fiber-rich diet plays an essential role in controlling and managing obesity. Fiber is a mixture of cellulose, lignin and polysaccharides called pentoses (type of simple sugar). It is the part of plant food which is indigestible and provides no calories. Fiber helps you manage obesity as it provides bulk to food which makes you feel fuller while reducing the calorie intake.

Besides aiding in weight loss, high fiber food also prevents heart diseases by reducing the absorption of lipids, proteins and simple carbohydrates which is also a common risk factor. Certain sugars present in fiber bind with cholesterol and reduces its absorption from the intestine. Fiber-rich foods include:

  1. wheat bran,
  2. whole wheat flour,
  3. peas,
  4. carrots and
  5. most of the leafy green vegetables.

You would also have heard about Low carbohydrates and no carbohydrates diets that help produce quick and dramatic results but remember they most often lead to rebound weight gain. 

Know about the difference between good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates here! 


Achieving and maintaining weight is an ongoing process for most of us, we are human, we will slip, but those that get back on the saddle faster are winners. To reduce weight effectively, you need to cut down your total calorie intake and not just your carbohydrate intake. Also, a low carbohydrates diet may not provide you with enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber for good health. So, try to include good carbohydrates in your diet.

To know about good carbohydrates read “Good carbohydrates vs bad carbohydrates”.

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