Science: The ‘Obesity’ Gene Is Not Keeping Us All From Losing Weight

Senior Contributor


Just why we, as a species, are gaining weight is an open question that medicine is still struggling with. There was some hope that we’d all be collectively let off the hook by the “obesity gene,” better known to doctors as the FTO genotype, which would prevent us from losing weight, but, it turns out, a new study has burned that excuse for us — which is both good and bad news.

The good news is that an enormous study conducted across the world with thousands of volunteers both with and without the FTO genotype found that the genotype doesn’t impact weight loss through diet and exercise. Basically, a person’s genetics are not their ultimate fate when it comes to weight loss, which is excellent. The bad news is that, in addition to torpedoing yet another reason to not get on the rowing machine, this more or less puts us back at square one in terms of solving the obesity problem, medically speaking.

This doesn’t mean that your weight is completely under your control. The FTO genotype is just one example of a number of genes that are somehow related to obesity, and in fact, humanity might be genetically prone to obesity in the first place. Keep in mind, while we generally work at desks and only hunt the mighty Cheeto, our bodies are still wired to believe we spend all day running away from wild animals and that protein and fat are scarce resources, and our body does not react kindly to losing them. A team of Biggest Loser contestants, for example, recently came out and admitted that they’d gained all the weight back, some with interest. Research found their bodies were actively working against their weight loss efforts, slowing down their metabolisms and essentially forcing them to put the pounds back on.

And, of course, there’s also the issue of body image. One of the things that’s easy to miss is that even if we all started eating salads and steamed chicken in between gym visits (tomorrow, not today), the majority of us would still not look like fitness models. Part of the issue with weight loss is unrealistic expectations, and that will be much harder to chip away at.

Like we said, the good news is that this means if you get on, and stick to, a reasonable weight loss program, absent any medical issues, you can start losing weight. But just how it all works, and what we need to do to keep the weight off or not gain it in the first place, remains a mystery.

(via The New York Daily News)

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