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Obesity and Genetics


Genetics play a role in obesity as our genetic make-up controls the way in which our bodies regulate energy, including the mechanisms used to store, and release food energy in the form of fat.

It is believed that our genetic composition changes too slowly in order to be entirely responsible for the significant rise in obesity rates. However, the impact of genetics certainly contributes to obesity in an environment of calorie rich foods and sedentary lifestyles.

When food is plentiful year round, the prevalence of “energy-thrifty” genes once deemed necessary to our survival during times of famine, may lead excess weight gain.

In addition to this, a genetic predisposition that favors increasing body fat capacity will affect appetite, fullness, and the ability to use up stored reserves of fat. The fact that there is tremendous weight diversity among individuals experiencing similar environmental conditions, points to genetic susceptibility as a strong indicator of weight problems in certain populations.

Specific genes associated with obesity are difficult to identify, although genetic researchers are working hard to determine the links between obesity and genetics. Recently, a fat mass and obesity related gene was isolated as possibly being responsible for as many as 22 percent of obesity cases in the general public.

Regardless of the connection between obesity and genetics, researchers advise following a healthy balanced plan of nutrition, and participating in an exercise program in order to maintain a healthy weight, and lower the risk of heart disease and other health complications.

Source: Statistics provided from the CDC