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Why are Americans getting so chubby?

The reasons are complex, and the source of endless speculation in the medical community.

Earlier this year, research from the University of Southern California found that people gain weight because of genetic factors, suggesting that people are essentially “hardwired” to eat more from the start. In 2007, British researchers announced they had found an “obesity gene.”

Some blame the culture.

“We live in an obesogenic environment that relies heavily on fast food, automobiles and remote controls, all which can be labeled as ‘toxic’ to maintaining a healthy body weight,” said Brown University psychiatrist Rena Wing.

She presented her strategies to counter such influences on a global basis to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February - emphasizing the grim factors of “globesity.” Worldwide, 1 billion adults are overweight, according to the World Health Organization, which also labeled the phenomenon an “epidemic.”

Some researchers contend that doctors are not prepared for the challenges.

According to University of Alberta research, 83 percent of family physicians “were less likely to perform physical examinations on reluctant obese patients,” while one-fourth doubted their own competency in treating the ailments of overweight people.

Dr. Wang recommended immediate “creative initiatives” in the public and private sectors to counter the obesity trend, calling for input from educators, food producers, urban planners, transportation analysts, parents and the general public. He wants changes in health care systems and training to “face the rising burden of obesity-related health consequences.”

Still, his findings are not necessarily written in stone.

“Future policy, environmental and behavioral changes may prove the assumptions wrong,” Dr. Wang said. “It is our hope that the predicted grim future of the obesity epidemic will not turn into the actual scenario in the U.S. or any other countries.”

The analysis was published in the Obesity Journal, an academic publication.