Obesity and Genes

Obesity and genes A lot of research is taking place about the relationship between obesity and genes. New evidence that genetics plays a key role in obesity is published in the International Journal of Bioinformatics Research and Applications. The findings relate to the genetics of modern Pima Indians who have an unusually high rate of obesity but the finding could be extrapolated to all people. Their obesity is thought to be linked to a thrifty metabolism that allowed them to metabolize food more efficiently in times when little was available but causes problems when food is in abundance.

Inheritance of Obesity refers to whether the condition is inherited from your parents or "runs" in families. The level of inheritance of a condition depends on how important genetics are to the disease. Strongly genetic diseases are usually inherited, partially genetic diseases are sometimes inherited, and non-genetic diseases are not inherited.

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In recent decades, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in populations whose environments offer an abundance of calorie-rich foods and few opportunities for physical activity. Although, population genetic changes are too slow to be blamed for the rapid rise in obesity in the United States and many other countries, genes do play a role in the development of obesity. The origin of these genes, however, might not be recent.

Any explanation of the obesity epidemic has to include both the role of genetics as well as that of the environment. A commonly quoted genetic explanation for the rapid rise in obesity is the mismatch between today’s environment and “energy-thrifty genes” that multiplied in the past under rather different environmental conditions. In other words, according to the “thrifty genotype” hypothesis, the same genes that helped our ancestors survive occasional famines are now being challenged by environments in which food is plentiful year round.

Does this mean that those with a susceptible genotype are destined to a life of futile efforts to achieve a healthy weight? This need not be the case. We can’t change our genes, but we can change our behavior. Small victories in weight loss — often as little as 10% of total body mass — can result in positive effects on health and well-being, even if an ideal weight remains elusive. Also, the positive effects of regular physical activity include lower blood pressure and increased cardiorespiratory fitness even in people who are significantly overweight. Before undertaking any physical activity check you physical fitness.

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In the longer term, understanding the genetic variations that influence energy metabolism may help us to understand the underlying biological factors that affect weight gain and energy expenditure. Also, to recognize that obesity may be due to a metabolic condition rather than a flaw in character is important both for the people who are affected and for society as a whole. To prevent overweight, let the cause be genes or any other factor, the emphasize is on a nutritious diet and daily physical activity. Many who follow this advice from the outset are able to maintain a healthy weight, even with a genetic susceptibility to gain weight.