Science shows that genetics plays a considerable role in obesity but generally to a much lesser degree than many people might believe.
Although genes may increase one’s potential to gain weight, a higher risk for obesity requires external factors, such as abundant food supply or modest physical activity.
What role do genes play in our susceptibility to obesity?
How genetics influences obesity is explained by Professor Ruth Burke, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ariel University in Israel. He has conducted research on this topic for several years. According to him, a significant amount of diseases and medical conditions are developed through genetics – including obesity.
Our brain regulates food intake after receiving signals from fat tissue. These signals are coordinated with other inputs to which the brain responds with instructions to the body: either to eat more and reduce energy use or to do the contrary. As genes are the basis for the signals and responses that guide food intake, small changes in these genes have been associated with obesity.
However, heredity and behavior may both be needed for a person to be overweight. Even though genes do have a role in someone’s susceptibility to obesity, they’re not the sole reason; obesity depends on environmental factors such as nutrition and exercise as well.
According to Prof. Burke, customized nutrition based on someone’s innate genetic structure is a useful option in fighting obesity. Although it’s still a developing field, he says it has excellent potential.
While some people may indeed be genetically predisposed to obesity, making healthy changes in their diet by switching to healthy eating habits can counteract a genetic predisposition. While obesity is associated with a long list of chronic health conditions (many of which become more difficult to treat over time), preventing it is a must.
You can’t change your genes, but what you can do is adopt a healthy lifestyle!