Obesity is not a fate

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Obesity is not a fate. A genetic predisposition can be reduced through exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

(2010-08-01) Even if people have a genetic predisposition to "get fat", this does not automatically mean that those affected also suffer from being overweight. Rather, being overweight depends on how much you exercise and what lifestyle you maintain. This is reported by a recent study by the Epidemiological Department of the Medical Research Council in Cambridge.

The researchers reported in the science magazine "Plos Medicine" that although a genetic predisposition quickly leads to obesity, it can be reduced by around 40 percent if one maintains an active and healthy lifestyle. The scientists around Ruth Loos examined around 20,000 subjects. During the investigations, the genetic dispositions of the participants were compared with each other. It emerged that every single genetic risk factor increases the body weight of an average person by 592 grams. If the participants were active in sport despite being genetically overweight, the genetic disposition for the overweight slope was reduced to 364 grams. This explains that healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of being overweight. Loos, the head of the study, explained this: Obesity is not a fate, but can be controlled consciously. A statistical model person, who was 1.70 meters tall, was used as the basis for the calculation.

The study found that despite personal predisposition to being overweight, genetic predisposition can be offset by 40 percent through exercise and healthy eating. In the test series, the study participants carried between six and 17 of the genetic risk factors in the genome. The different effects of the dispositions subsumed when additional risk factors were added. In other words, the more factors complement each other, the greater the predisposition to being overweight. The factor could be calculated using the statistical model of a 1.70 meter tall "average person". At 379 grams, it was below average for active people and 592 grams above it for completely inactive people. That makes a difference of 36 percent. Lifestyle significantly influences whether someone suffers from obesity or not.

The scientists now want to investigate the extent to which the western way of life and the genetic components are interrelated. It has been observed for years that the average body weight of people in western industrialized countries is continuously increasing. People eat more and more calories and move less and less. The proportion of those who are overweight or even obese is continuously increasing. The question now is whether the genetic factor for the predisposition to “grow fat” was only triggered by the western lifestyle or at least favored the genetic factor. Further studies are now to follow to check the acceptance. (sb)

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Image: Rainer Sturm, Pixelio.de

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