Do you have that one friend that eats like an elephant but still looks like a stick? Why is it that some people keep gaining weight in spite of their vigorous efforts to control their diet? Is it possible that some people are more susceptible towards gaining weight than others? If two individuals are given the exact same diet over a month, do you think their weights will be identical? You will be shocked to know the answer. There have been studies that suggest obesity may be a genetic disease influenced by environmental factors throughout a person’s life and even across generations!
You inherit your genes (DNA) from your parents. You get one copy of each gene from each parent. Your gene expression determines your phenotype, or the physical property of an organism for example height; it depends on your parent’s or even grandparent’s heights if you will be tall or short. Hereditary diseases, caused by genetic mutations, are diseases that run in the family and are transferred from the parents to their children.
Unfortunately, even a single mutation in your DNA can change your whole pattern of gene expression. Moreover, there is a certain type of gene in our bodies that is linked directly to obesity. Mutations in one’s FTO gene, which can be defined as the fat mass and obesity-associated gene, have been associated with increases in weight. The largest study shows that those with a mutation in this gene, have a 67% higher chance of obesity and an average of 3 kilograms higher BMI than those with no mutation in FTO.
In addition, this mutation does not only cause obesity to that particular individual but also becomes a part of their new genetic sequence. Therefore, the strongest risk factor for childhood obesity is parental obesity. There is a very strong linkage between the two. Research suggests that, if one parent has obesity, then the obesity risk in their child is 2.5 to 4 times higher. Not only this, if both the parents of the child are obese, then the risk of obesity in the child becomes up to 10 times higher!
Hence, it can be said that susceptibility to obesity is genetically determined, and the development of obesity is a result of susceptive genes and conductive environment. So, in my view one should see fitness or good health as a legacy that you will be passing on to your kids and maybe also your grandchildren! Making right decisions when it comes to your diet and exercise are crucial not only to avoid genetic mutations but also to maintain your normal genetic structure. Attempts to stay fit, are not only beneficial presently, but will also show positive results in the future!
FTO obesity variant circuitry and adipocyte browning in humans. Laber S, Cox RD.Front Genet. 2015 Oct 23;6:318. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2015.00318. eCollection 2015.