Slide 5 Obesity: Genes at fault...

  Obesity: Genes at fault...


 The majority of Americans (over 60%)  when polled are of the opinion that obesity is mostly in part to overindulgence, decreased physical activity and low will power on the part of an individual. This notion has carried through centuries despite significant research to the contrary. Is it time to pop the bubble and bring to light that its actually genetic faults that lead to weight gain ?


Where is the evidence ? skeptics may ask. Well, for years, research has shown that genetics plays a major role in obesity. Twin studies in the 90’s have shown that adopted twins, despite different life styles will maintain similar weights. Adoption studies around that time also have shown time and time again that adopted children despite healthy eating habits of their non obese adopted parents will end up obese, over 80% of the time, if both their biologic parents were overweight or obese.


Unfortunately due to genetics, if an overweight individual is successful in losing weight to near normal their body drops their metabolism to an extent that they have to eat much less than their normal counterparts in order to maintain the same weight (an inherent trait of the body to prevent resizing itself), hence if an obese individual maintains a healthy weight then they should indeed be praised for their super human will power and efforts in doing so.


Genes historically discovered include the ‘ob’ gene responsible for the satiety factor and peptide hormone leptin, hunger stimulating hormone ghrelin, FTO gene or fat mass and obesity associated gene and most recently the DYRK1B gene. These genes suggest obesity may indeed be innate.


The combination of genetic predisposition and lifestyle habits moulds the final BMI or body mass index. BMI is calculated by dividing the weight by the surface area of the body. An ideal BMI is less than 25. Overweight individuals therefore have a BMI > 25.


It is therefore time to shift the blame. Those of us who are blessed with near ideal body weights should be less judgmental of those who are overweight and encourage them and provide constant support and guidance to help them achieve healthy goals. We can all help by promoting healthy lifestyles and appropriate levels of physical activity. We are in this together.