Thursday, March 05, 2009

Guess what? You're probably not fated to be fat.


People like to blame genes.

Now there's no doubt whatsoever that genes affect weight, but given the fact that genes haven't changed in the past 100 years and obesity rates have, it's tough to suggest that if you've got an unlucky deck you're fated to be fat.

Recently there's been some work done on the FTO gene. Readers of my friend Dr. Arya Sharma's blog may have come across his post that detailed research published in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggested kids with a particular version of the FTO gene were more likely to choose higher fat (and hence higher calorie) foods.

So are they fated to be fat? Is there nothing they can do?

Of course not.

In an article published yesterday in the PLoS Laura Johnson and colleagues looking at a sampling of 2,275 children found that those children with the higher calorie version of the FTO gene who consumed lower energy dense diets did not find themselves at an elevated risk of obesity.


Regardless of your genes, if you're not eating more calories than you burn you're not likely to gain.

This doesn't mean that life isn't more challenging for folks with genetic contributors to weight gain - it just hammers home the fact that like those towns I blogged about in France, without tremendous education and a focus on changing the actual environment, this problem's probably not going away.

Remember too 100 years ago obesity was an incredible rarity - the world back then was truly a phenomenal behavioural weight loss program as it was a program that worked not on an individual level, but rather a societal one.

As always talks about genetics and weight bring me back to Dr. George Bray's famous quote,

"Genes load the gun, the environment pulls the trigger"