The Genetics and Weight Equation: How Your DNA Impacts Your Waistline
Have you ever known someone who breathes and gains weight, whereas another can eat whatever they want and still their scale won’t budge?
On the surface, most of us associate weight gain with overeating high-calorie and sugary foods and a sedentary lifestyle. While extra pounds are the apparent consequence of deliberate poor choices, sometimes the predisposition to gain weight is just set in DNA.
A number of long-term studies have been conducted to investigate the genetics and weight equation, yielding groundbreaking results showing that genetics may cause some people to gain weight more easily than others.
Do genetics influence body weight, and what are their roles in weight management? We will give you more details on the matter right below.
Your Genes May Hold the Key to Shaping Your Body Size
What Causes Weight Gain?
Many different factors can trigger weight gain. The most prominent reason associated with being overweight is overeating. When you pay no mind to the amount of calories consecutively, you are unlikely to dodge excess weight.
In the fast-paced lifestyle, most people reach for fast foods to fill their stomachs. A fast-food meal with highly processed foods and sugary beverages is the telltale cause of weight gain. Unsurprisingly, such readily available foods are often high in calories, unnecessary sugar, and preservatives but low in fiber and nutritional values. When consumed long term, they affect the body figure and increase health risks, such as diabetes and heart problems.
While some people can sit back, munch on delectable meals, and attain a slim figure due to their fast metabolism, which makes them burn calories without breaking a sweat, not many people have that luxury. The metabolic system is the primary driver of energy expenditure (EE). It means when a person’s calorie-ins are above calorie-outs, they will gain weight.
Stress, depression, and mental health issues are prerequisites for weight gain. Unresolved ongoing stress can make a person eat more. This coping mechanism is observed in stressed people because most believe that binge eating may help dull the pains and erase negative emotions inside their heads. Even if they don’t seek foods in response to stress, a surge in cortisol levels can slow down metabolism. Research has found that women exposed to one or more stressors throughout a day burned fewer calories than those who weren’t stressed by up to 104 calories.
Sometimes, weight gain is not that simple. Some people don’t eat much but keep packing on the pounds still. This is because several underlying conditions may interfere with weight management, regardless of how much time they might spend in the gym. For example, people diagnosed with hypothyroidism may experience slight weight gain. In women, menopause may cause them to accumulate a few more pounds around the waistline. Other factors contributing to unintentional weight gain include Cushing’s disease, kidney problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), digestive issues, sleep problems, and medication side effects.
Genetics and Weight Equations: What Is The Connection?
Engaging in physical activity and eating healthy are tried and true weight-loss strategies that ensure achievable success for generations. However, life can be unfair. Again, we have witnessed many people gaining weight, as if counting calories and sweating on the treadmill don’t work out for them. That’s when genetics are put into the debate.
Although genetics are one of the reasons for weight gain, people tend to overlook it. What did the studies find? Several studies have suggested that genetic faults may predispose a person to put on more weight. It can be understood that a person is prone to be fat naturally if their parents are overweight.
Is there a fat gene? The answer is sort of. Scientists have learned that more than 400 genes may have something to do with excess weight in one way or another. The likelihood of being overweight may vary from person to person. Bad genetics may account for 25% of the predisposition to be overweight, but the percentage can reach roughly 70-80% in some people. A study conducted by the University of Cambridge has uncovered that genes with variants associated with obesity also have variants associated with thinness. In specific, obese people have a higher genetic risk score than healthily thin people.
Hormones like ghrelin, leptin, adiponectin, and neuropeptide Y are infamous genes tied to fluctuating body weight due to their ability to alter metabolism and appetite. Some other genes tied to increased risks of overweight include the following:
- FTO: The gene has caught a lot of attention because its role in weight issues has been confirmed by many scientists, claiming that a person has a higher chance of adding more weight by up to 20-30%.
- Ankyrin-B: An animal-based study has shown that ankyrin-B can facilitate faster absorption of glucose to fat cells, making those cells double in size.
- Pannexin 1: Pannexin 1 is a regulator of fat accumulation and obesity. The disruptive gene may increase the rates of fat accumulation, leading to obesity over time.
- Iroquois homeobox gene B: As a designator of body mass and composition, a genetic deficiency can lead to weight loss by up to 30%.
- CYP17 and CYP19: While CYP17 influences growth during adolescence and childhood, CYP19 is associated with weight measurement and BMI
Genetic Weight Gain: Tips to Stay in Shape
The groundbreaking result can indicate several things. Weight gain is more complicated than we might think when genetics have a role to play in weight. It has shed light into the decades-spanning sensitive issue of why some people can gain weight as easily as just looking at food while some others barely think about dieting ever in their life.
Such a discovery has helped scientists better understand the reasons behind weight issues. It also paves the way for advanced interventions in weight management. When a person is genetically fat, shredding extra weight might take longer than usual because it is impossible to alter our DNA composition.
However, the strategies to lose weight are the same for everyone since genetics are only a tiny part of the bigger picture. Most importantly, identifying the underlying causes allows individuals to customize an effective diet based on their genetics, lifestyle, development, behavior, and environment.
Establishing a consistent exercise routine is the top tip for weight loss. Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week is imperative. It doesn’t have to be lifting weights or spending hours on the treadmill, but any physical activity to keep your body moving should have similar impacts on weight loss.
Changing your diet is one of the best ways to lose weight. In addition to curbing carbs and adding more vegetables to your plate, it might be worth looking at intermittent fasting, the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet, the DASH diet, the WW, and the Volumetrics diet. The benefits of diets go beyond weight loss, as eating healthy can improve overall health and wellness and prevent illnesses.
Consult your doctor if you struggle to lose weight. A doctor will conduct an assessment plan to evaluate your weight, identify the causes, and recommend sustainable interventions for losing weight accordingly. This initial step is helpful for mapping out a treatment plan that is closely aligned with your current health status and fitness goals, whether it involves straightforward lifestyle modifications, medications, weight-loss injections, or weight-loss surgeries.
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