Losing weight: Why your genes can’t be blamed anymore

While the FTO gene can make you more prone to being overweight, it doesn’t hinder anyone from losing weight.

Being overweight can be blamed on lifestyle habits and our genes but while DNA can make us susceptible to gaining weight, it can’t be blamed for us not losing the weight according to a new study.

John Mathers and his team from Newcastle University investigated a particular gene – the FTO gene – that heavily influences how the body uses calories whether for fat storage or keeping warm. This is the gene that is associated with weight gain and possible obesity in people who carry it.

The research team examined the data of 9563 adults who took part in international randomised controlled weight loss trials to find out whether the gene actually acted as an impediment to weight loss. The participants undertook weight loss strategies such as diet, exercise and drug-based therapies and they found that surprisingly people who carried this gene responded just as well to the weight loss strategies as those that didn’t.

“You can no longer blame your genes. Our study shows that improving your diet and being more physically active will help you lose weight, regardless of your genetic makeup,” stated Mathers.

So while those with the FTO genotype can potentially be prone to being slightly heavier, they can no longer blame it on not being able to lose weight. This comes at a point when the obesity epidemic is at an all-time high in many countries bringing many healthcare systems to struggle with health problems associated with being heavily overweight.

“This is important news for people trying to lose weight as it means that diet, physical activity or drug-based weight loss plans will work just as well in those who carry the risk version of FTO,” stated Mathers. “For public health professionals, it means that the adverse effects of the FTO genotype on weight gain are not an impediment to weight loss interventions.”

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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