Obesity is all due to fat genes for a fifth of people. A new study has shown that genetics means that diet and exercise are not as effective for millions of people. However, it has led to debate over whether it is completely useless.
The new research could lead to medical boards around the world to change the classification of obesity to being a disability. This could change how it is treated by doctors, and change the advice to “eat less and move more.” The study has been the most precise so far to determine why so many people are overweight and obese.
According to British figures, one tenth of children and a quarter of adults are obese. It has led to £8 billion ($12 billion) being spent on illnesses related to it and to treat it in the United Kingdom alone.
The Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits researchers analyzed DNA for the study. Over 300,000 people around the world were included to determine whether genetics plays a part in obesity. Elizabeth Speliotes led the research, and said that there was not a single gene that led to the problem. However, genetics does play a part. There are a number of genes, meaning that a number of solutions to fight against it. It could help open new doors for ways to defeat it.
That does not mean that diet and exercise is useless. While obesity in a fifth of people is due to fat genes, University of Leeds medicine professor Alistair Hall believes that dieting and exercising are still the best preventative methods and will help with weight loss. However, people born with the fat gene could find it harder and gain weight quickly.
Researchers also found that women are more genetically predisposed compared to men. The genetics lead to women accumulating weight around the waist instead of the hips. That leads to higher risks of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Only one of the 20 DNA strands looked into did not have a stronger effect on females, which the researchers believe is due to sex hormones.
The idea of diet and exercise not being enough to curb obesity was challenged this week. Dr. Christopher Ochner and his research team believe that biology is to blame. The body has set up defenses from a time when food was scarce. The body encourages people to eat more, especially higher-calorie foods. Combating these defenses is required to help lose weight and keep it off.
According to these experts, diet and exercise is only good for short-term weight loss. People end up gaining weight. However, Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum argued that while weight loss is hard, diet and exercise is important. People need to work hard to keep the weight off, but some give into gluttony.
Both research teams are focused on treating obesity. With the knowledge that genes play a part, it could lead to it becoming an official disability or disease. This will help people get the best treatment for their needs, if they know that their obesity could be due to fat genes.
By Alexandria Ingham