Some people eat their way to weight gain. Others just don’t move as much and end up gaining all that mass. However, some say that they’re predisposed to weight gain because “it’s in my genes”. We like to do our research before we call people out on being lazy or ill-disciplined, so we went to find out if individual genetics play a part in weight gain at all and if so, to what extent?
The Science (so far)…
Research into America’s new obesity epidemic is an ongoing endeavour. Much research is put into understanding obesity, which is an impending strain because 78 million obese adults would be placed on the country’s healthcare system in the near future. The side effect of this heavy research activity is a depth of literature and new facts that we can use to understand and fight our own obesity.
In the big picture, the research shows that genetics accounts for 50 to 70 per cent of our weight variability. What this means is that there are a large number of reasons to why people gain weight from a genetic point of view. Some people get hungry faster than others, some people have bodies that retain more fat, and there are some that even develop food addictions quicker than the average populace.
The CDC states that human genes do play a part in predisposing certain people to weight gain and obesity. In their situation, they cite genetic disorders like Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. These syndromes affect a small part of the population, but they usually also come with other health issues like renal failure or hypergonadism. So the chance that a person possesses one of the above syndromes but only has obesity as an indicator is close to nil.
There are, however, cases of monogenic obesity. Monogenic obesity is a clear pattern of inherited obesity within a family that is caused by a specific variant of a single gene. However, rates of this form of obesity occur in less than 5% of all cases of obesity.
A more likely reason why certain people gain weight is that they are genetically predisposed to obesity-related diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or thyroid problems and the like. These diseases may manifest early, preventing a physically active lifestyle or fast-acting metabolism.
A more plausible hypothesis is that our genes could be actively causing us to gain weight because of the way we have adapted to our environments. This is called the “Thrifty Genotype Hypothesis”.
The theory goes that there is a mismatch between today’s environment and “energy-thrifty genes” that were developed in prehistoric man in a time when food was difficult to come by. That is to say that the same genes that helped our ancestors survive unpredictable food shortages are now working actively against us, now that we are in a “energy-rich” environment.
When it comes to countering the genetics of obesity, you will have to first identify the genetic reason for your rapid weight gain, then actively make tweaks to specifically counter that problem.
- Issue: You get hungry fast (appetite-suppression problem).
- Solution: Pack nuts, trail mix or have a low-calorie bar hanging around with you.
In the example above, it is a simple lifestyle tweak. But things may be a little more complex:
- Issue: You have a lower metabolism and do shift work so you get too exhausted to work out.
- Solution: Recognise that your food intake will have to change. Additionally, see a doctor if your metabolism is causing you to lead a low energy lifestyle.
In every example, ask yourself the following questions that will help you adjust:
- Physical Safety – Will eating in specific ways or exercise cause physical harm to you?
- Motivation – Will you be able to deal with prolonged efforts at preventing weight gain?
- Environment – Is your lifestyle conducive to prevent weight gain?
The good news is that you can counter your weight gain genetics. If you’re serious about it, see a certified doctor or nutritionist, read up more and make that effort. we promise you’ll see results and be a healthier person at the end of the day.