Got ‘fat genes’? You can still reduce your waistlines

Last Updated: Dec 19, 2011, 20:36 PM IST

Washington: The ‘fat gene’, which increases obesity risk by around 23 percent, actually has a very small impact, around 2 pounds, on weight gain, a new study has revealed.

Identification of “fat mass and obesity associated” (or FTO) gene has given some overweight or obese individuals the idea that the dice are loaded and there is little point in even trying to lose weight; dieting is difficult enough without our heredity fighting against us.

However, the study found that “The association of the FTO variant with BMI and with the odds of obesity was reduced by approximately 30 percent in physically active compared to inactive adults,” the Discovery News reported.

In other words, exercising trims down the effect of the “fat gene” by about a third.

According to the study, the research “demonstrates that a genetic susceptibility to obesity is modifiable by lifestyle (choices).”

This implies that, far from the “fat gene” dooming its carriers to a life of obesity unbending towards weight loss, overweight people have an enormous amount of control over their weight.

The fact is that most people can lose weight on just about any sensible diet. Often the mere fact that a person begins paying attention to what they are eating is enough to reduce calorie consumption, since a lot of snacking behaviour is subconscious — people are not aware of how much they eat, and how often.

The study’s authors anticipate that that their research will aid fighting “fat fatalism,” the notion that trying to lose weight is pointless.

“Our findings ... emphasize that exercise / physical activity is a particularly effective way of controlling body weight in individuals with a genetic predisposition towards obesity and thus contrast with the determinist view held by many that genetic influences are unmodifiable,” authors said.

ANI