Obesity is one of the biggest health epidemics in the world. In the United States, it’s estimated that over two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. While some people may blame a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits for their weight gain, recent studies have found that obesity has a genetic component as well.
In fact, research has shown that certain genes can predispose people to obesity or make them more susceptible to its negative effects on health, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure (BMI).
However, genetic factors aren’t the only ones to blame for obesity. Environmental factors also play a role, including the availability of cheap, unhealthy food and lack of physical activity.
This article briefly explains the role of genes in obesity and the genes that may be associated with the condition. It also includes information on how genetics and the environment interact to increase the risk of obesity in people.
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Genetics and Obesity: The Role of Genes in Obesity
Obesity is a complex health issue that is caused by a number of different factors, with lifestyle and environmental factors being the most common contributors to the condition. However, research has found that there is a strong correlation between genetics and obesity.
Researchers have found that there are certain genes that can lead to obesity, and some people have a greater risk of developing obesity than others. According to health experts, most people who are obese tend to have a family history of obesity.
So if you have an overweight parent, there is a high chance that you can become overweight too. And this is due to the fact that you will be more likely to carry the “obesity” gene passed down from your parent.
However, there are some cases where genetics may not play as much of a role as originally thought. There are studies that show that certain genes can cause obesity, but this does not mean that someone with these genes will automatically become obese.
Gene Discoveries on Obesity: Obesity Genes
There are several genes that have been identified as being associated with obesity. These include:
FTO Gene (Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated Gene)
The FTO gene was first discovered in 2007 using genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The gene is responsible for making a protein that is involved in regulating appetite and energy metabolism. It can be found on chromosome 16 in humans and has been shown to be associated with body mass index (BMI), weight gain, and fat mass in various studies.
There are several variants of this gene that have been associated with obesity, and according to research, people with a certain variation of the gene have an increased risk of what is known as polygenic obesity.
The FTO gene is also associated with diabetes and heart disease, which are two common health conditions that can be caused by obesity. This gene has been shown to influence the development of these diseases, even in people who are not obese.
MC4R Gene (Melanocortin 4 Receptor)
The Melanocortin 4 Receptor (MC4R) gene is responsible for the production of a protein that is found in certain areas of the brain. This protein helps regulate hunger and satiety by controlling the release of hormones that affect blood glucose levels, which in turn influences energy expenditure. People with a mutated form of this gene can experience uncontrollable hunger and overeating, which can lead to what is called monogenic obesity.
BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor)
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is a protein that can be found in the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. It has been shown to have an effect on memory, learning ability, and mood regulation.
Research shows that a mutation in the BDNF gene can lead to obesity by affecting how the brain processes hunger and satiety signals. This can lead to uncontrolled eating, which can result in weight gain.
Genes and the Environment
The relationship between genes and your environment can be tricky to understand. Just because a person has a gene that causes them to be obese doesn’t mean they’ll automatically become obese. It’s also true that someone who doesn’t have any genes associated with obesity might still become overweight if their environment makes it easier for them to overeat or make poor food choices.
Genes are one factor that can make you more or less likely to become obese. But there are many other factors that play a role in weight gain, including:
- The types of food you eat
- How much physical activity you get
- How much sleep you get
- Your stress levels
- Your mental health
- Your family history of obesity
- Your culture and environment
Genes and Weight Management
Genetics can influence a person’s weight, but it doesn’t have to be an excuse. If you are genetically predisposed to being overweight or obese yet still eat poorly and exercise less, you will likely be heavier than someone who does not have that predisposition. But if you eat well and exercise regularly, genetics will not be a barrier to weight loss. You can still control how much fat you carry by making smart choices about what you eat and how active you are.
It is clear that there is a genetic component to obesity. Studies have shown that there are several genes involved in this condition, and they can be passed on from generation to generation. While this is an unfortunate reality, more research may be able to help us understand how to prevent obesity and treat it in the future.
However, it’s important to note that just because there is a genetic component to obesity doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. You can control your diet and exercise habits, which will help prevent weight gain and promote weight loss.
Keep in mind that obesity does contribute to other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. So while it’s not entirely preventable, it’s important to consult a weight loss doctor or obesity doctor if you are obese, who can advise on the best course of action to a healthier you.