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Is Your Weight A Result Of Your DNA?

posted on 7/3/2016 Facebook Facebook

Obesity is a global phenomenon and India is fast catching up with the rest of the world in vying for the top spot. Let’s flash back a few decades and no one would have predicted that obesity would become a global problem and that too of such a huge magnitude. The situation is as thought-provoking as it is unbelievable. 

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), about one-third of the world population is obese. A patient goes to visit his doctor and when quizzed about his family’s history says, “Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, everything runs in my family”. The doctor humorously replies, “That’s because no one runs in your family.” While the sarcasm here is unintentional the purpose of listing this example is not. 

Understanding Obesity
Obesity refers to a condition wherein the body weight of an individual is greater than what is considered to be normal and healthy. Body mass index (BMI) helps to determine whether the individual has an appropriate weight for his/her height and age. Did you know that India has a whopping 30 million obese people? Being obese or overweight puts you at higher risk for various health related problems including coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, arthritis, gallstones others.

The urban Indian population is so tied up with work these days that they hardly find time to exercise properly. Enter stress, lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, nutrient deficient diets, sedentary lifestyle; and we have the perfect cocktail for risking obesity. But are these the only reasons behind your bulging waistline? Your weight is the result of constant interactions between your genes and environment. Genes that once helped our ancestors store excess energy to survive lengthy episodes of food shortage, still have the same effect. Except, for now, we seldom face food shortage. 

Genetics Of Obesity
The FTO gene is one of the most well-known genes associated with obesity, and about 40% of the general population has a risk variant (mutation) of this gene. People who carry risk variants of FTO have a low satiety trait and are more likely to overeat because they don’t feel full. 

These individuals also prefer calorie-dense foods high in fat and sugar, such as pastries, cheese, and fatty meats. One study reported that a variation of the FTO gene, rs9939609, may increase the risk of higher BMI and obesity (by 20%) in children and adults.

Another gene known to play a crucial part in obesity is APOA5—a triglyceride lipoprotein involved in the metabolism of fat in the body. Genome-wide studies have found that the presence of APOA5 gene variation (-1131T>C) increases the total fat intake, triglyceride levels, and BMI.

Tips To Tame Your Obesity Genes
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fiber but low in salt, fat, and sugar.
  • Regular physical activity. Brisk walking, running, and simple yoga exercises can go a long way in cutting down your risk. 
  • Control your portion sizes and avoid food rich in saturated fats (processed meat, fried foods etc.)
1. Yazdi FT, Clee SM, Meyre D. Obesity genetics in mouse and human: back and forth, and back again. PeerJ. 2015 Mar 24;3:e856. doi: 10.7717/peerj.856.eCollection 2015. Review. PubMed PMID: 25825681; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4375971.
2. Fawcett KA, Barroso I. The genetics of obesity: FTO leads the way. Trends Genet. 2010 Jun;26(6):266-74. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2010.02.006. Epub 2010 Apr 8. Review. PubMed PMID: 20381893; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2906751.
3. Prakash J, Mittal B, Srivastava A, Awasthi S, Srivastava N. Association of FTO rs9939609 SNP with Obesity and Obesity- Associated Phenotypes in a North India Population. Oman Med J. 2016 Mar;31(2):99-106. PubMed PMID: 27168919.
4. Farooqi IS. Defining the neural basis of appetite and obesity: from genes to behaviour. Clin Med (Lond). 2014 Jun;14(3):286-9. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.14-3-286. PubMed PMID: 24889574.
5. Zhu WF, Wang CL, Liang L, Shen Z, Fu JF, Liu PN, Lv LQ, Zhu YM. Triglyceride-raising APOA5 genetic variants are associated with obesity and non-HDL-C in Chinese children and adolescents. Lipids Health Dis. 2014 Jun 5;13:93. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-13-93. PubMed PMID: 24903888; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4055914.

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