Genetic Causes of Obesity

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • There is an attitude that is currently shared by many Americans of immediate appreciation for the more attractive among us. Our best-groomed, every hair in place, perfect smiles, blue-eyed, tall and lean cohorts are premium choices both physically and visually. Did I mention lean? Lean is important.

    Society presently prefers slender, and that is okay. Slender today, Marilyn Monroe yesterday. Preferences are fairly fluid and can be fickle, trading flip for flop in the blink of an eye. Yesterday’s in can be today’s out and revert back again in a near urgent reversal. That, too, is okay. What is not okay is the stereotypes that appear regarding those who do not fit the bill for the societal soup of the day. Not all people are slender. As a matter of fact, some people are obese and struggle with body image. Such people are often labeled as unclean, unattractive, freakish and lazy.

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    They are perceived as gluttonous, lacking in willpower, and solely responsible for their condition.

    Unless, of course, they are not particularly responsible at all.

    Genetics and Obesity

    Obesity is not a matter of choice. Studies now show that obesity is primarily the result of genetics.


    Studies show that the most important factor in determining a person’s weight is a specific set of weight-regulating genes. In fact, the heredity for obesity is about the same as the heredity for height.

    While the more recent American lifestyle of minimal exercise and maximum calorie consumption has resulted in an average ten pound weight gain, some are affected more dramatically than others. This is because certain individuals have a predisposition for accumulating body fat due to a genetic inheritance.

    The Fto Gene

    Because variations in the Fto gene had been linked to obesity in human beings, scientists conducted studies on mice to research the effects of the gene on weight and appetite. It was discovered that mice who carried extra copies of the Fto gene ate more and were fatter than the normal mice.

    More than one-third of the population in the United States carries this gene and, adding to the concern, it has been discovered that the Fto variant is also associated with the loss of brain tissue. This puts a large segment of the United States population at risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

    It was found that people who a “bad” version of the Fto gene had about 8% less tissue in the frontal lobes and 12% less tissue in the occipital lobes.

    Leptin

    Leptin is a hormone that is produced in fat cells and controls weight by signaling to the brain to not eat as much when the body fat stores become too high. If the body cannot produce enough leptin or if leptin cannot communicate with the brain, obesity is likely to occur.


    References:
    Attitudes Toward Obesity - http://www.missouriwestern.edu/psychology/research/psy302/spring96/KevinFaulkner.html - accessed 7/26/12
    Medicine.net - http://www.medicinenet.com/obesity_weight_loss/page3.htm - accessed 7/26/12
    NHS Choices - http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/11November/Pages/obesity-overeating-fto-gene.aspx - accessed 7/26/12

  • Science Daily - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419162308.htm - accessed 7/26/12

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    The Daily Beast - http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/09/09/the-real-cause-of-obesity.html - accessed 7/26/12

     
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    My Story...

    You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.

Published On: July 26, 2012