Friday, April 13, 2007

Thicker Than Water

This new study coming out of England has made me start pondering the whole question of obesity and genetics.

First off, don't get me wrong. I think blaming your ancestors and their faulty genes for your own weight problem is a cop-out. I do take responsibility for my own weight issues. But I also know "it runs in the family." My fat genes didn't cause me to get fat all on their own, but they did make it a whole lot easier for me to get that way and a whole lot harder for me to get myself out of it. No excuse. Just fact.

So, what's the study? Well, scientists have found "the most clear genetic link yet to obesity in the general population as part of a major study of diseases.. People with two copies of a particular gene variant have a 70% higher risk of being obese than those with no copies." One gene variant increased the predisposition toward obesity by 30%; two variants, by 70%. Note the genetic variants don't CAUSE obesity; they cause people to be PREDISPOSED toward obesity.

Researcher Andrew Hattersley said: "As a nation, we are eating more but doing less exercise, and so the average weight is increasing, but within the population some people seem to put on more weight than others. Our findings suggest a possible answer to someone who might ask 'I eat the same and do as much exercise as my friend next door, so why am I fatter?' There is clearly a component to obesity that is genetic."

Of course finding the genetic link and knowing what causes it and then knowing how to change it are three different issues, so this is an early step. But it's extremely interesting and really underscores how complex the issue of obesity is and the myriad factors that play into it, from genetics to overeating.

Just for fun, here are some of my own "genetic markers"--

My great-great-great-great grandfather, William

Great-great-great grandfather Matt

Great grandmother Sarah

Grandmother Carrie

Uncle Roy

This is a "small" sampling. Need I say more????

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