Many people blame their weight on genetics. After all, maybe their father and/or mother suffer from obesity. Plus, in the last few years the news media has covered how scientists have identified a gene that is linked to obesity, called the fat mass and obesity associated gene (FTO), or as some like to call it the “fat” gene. It is a common gene, which has been shown to affect appetite and weight gain.
Some people look at their family trees and are pretty sure that they must have the fat gene and are most likely destined to be fat. After all, who can beat genetics? But a study out of Lund University in Sweden says that you have more control over your weight than you may think.
The researchers found that, when it comes to obesity, food choices play a bigger role than many people think. In their research, they examined the FTO gene in relation to eating habits by carefully documenting the eating habits of FTO gene carriers via questionnaires, interviews and food diaries. What they found out was that the participants that ate a high fat diet and had low physical activity were more susceptible to obesity. Those that ate a low fat diet had lower occurrences of obesity even though they had the inherited risk.
What does this mean?
This means that even if someone has the FTO gene, they are not condemned to obesity. Lifestyle factors, such as food choices and exercise play a significant role countering the FTO gene and determining body weight. So, if you’re concerned that you might have the FTO gene, the best thing to do is eat a low fat diet and get regular exercise. The “fat” gene just increases the chance of obesity, it doesn’t guarantee it.
Source: Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009, 27958 (via ScienceDaily)