First, the most recent data shows that nearly 42 percent of Americans are obese. Now, being obese has many negative health consequences such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and a low quality of life. Moreover, obese Americans with high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease are also very vulnerable to the latest highly contagious coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
By the way, there are many causes of obesity. For example, overeating, poor diet, genetics, and a sedentary lifestyle are all prime causes of obesity.
Effects of Obesity Genes
Now, there are two groups of genes linked to obesity. The first group of genes acts on the brain by regulating hunger and satiety. Consequently, they influence how much you eat and what you eat. Meanwhile, the second group of genes works at the cellular level to determine where the fat will be stored in the body.
Body Fat Distribution
Meanwhile, previous studies have reported that there are 49 positions along a chromosome where genes with a genetic variant are located. Incidentally, coding variations are differences within genes that have the potential to alter the way genes and the proteins they produce function. For instance, some of these variations are linked to processes that control blood sugar and fat metabolism.
Furthermore, these genes, with genetic variants, predispose individuals to higher or lower waist-to-hip ratios. By the way, this ratio is a measure of body-fat distribution. In fact, the World Health Organization defines abdominal obesity as a waist-to-hip ratio above 0.90 for males and above 0.85 for females. Regrettably, the higher the waste-to-hip ratio the greater the likelihood of diseases like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases. By the way, all three of these diseases makes the individual highly susceptible to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, University of North Carolina researchers identified, in 2019, 24 genes with . Indeed, these variants (from among the 49 mentioned above) predisposes individuals to high waist-to-hip ratio. In addition, genes, with these coding variants, influence not only metabolism but also regulate body fat tissue, bone growth and adiponectin. By the way, adiponectin is a hormone controlling blood glucose levels and breaking down fat.
Furthermore, these 24 genes, with coding variants, help separate people with high waist-to-hip ratio from pear-shaped people with low waist-to-hip ratio. So, these 24 genes, are partly responsible for the excess fat around the abdomen, which is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Now, in addition to these effects of genes, there is strong evidence that lifestyle choices also play a huge role. For example, a sedentary lifestyle, where sitting for long hours is a norm, there is little physical activity to burn calories and fat. As a result, fat accumulates in the body.
Similarly, a diet of sugary, tasty, high-calorie, high-carb, and high fat foods with little physical activity adds to the fat already in the body while also increasing weight. As a result, the waste-to-hip ratio increases.
So, a genetic profile, predisposed to obesity, in conjunction with an individual’s desire to follow a sedentary lifestyle and/or the desire to eat unhealthy foods magnifies the negative effects on obesity.
Study Reports Physical Activity Overcomes Obesity Genes
On the other hand, individuals who choose to engage in healthy physical activities and eat healthy foods in moderation can counterbalance their genetic predisposition to obesity. In fact, a recent study, from the United Kingdom, reported that high levels of physical activity and low levels sedentary habits can overcome a person’s genetic predisposition to obesity.
This study was based on 310,632 obese individuals who were also genetically predisposed to obesity. For the purpose of the study, Body Mass Index or BMI was used as a measure of obesity. In fact, the study found that those with low levels of physical activity had a higher BMI. On the other hand, those who exercised regularly had a lower BMI. Other consequences of regular exercise included the following:
1. Higher cardio respiratory fitness
2. Walking faster
3. Decreased sedentary behaviors
4. Shorter time watching TV
5. Shorter time playing video games
So, the study showed that high levels of physical activity and fitness lessen the association between genetic predisposition to obesity and being obese. While high levels of sedentary behaviors accentuate the association between genetic predisposition to obesity and being obese.
In conclusion, you don’t have to let your genetic predisposition to obesity be an excuse to be obese. Instead, change your lifestyle and be physically active. Moreover, there are a wide range of physical activities you can engage in. For example, long walks, jogging, bicycling, using one of many workout equipment at the nearby sports clubs or for the home, all help counter your genetic profile. Lastly, it’s also important to have a healthy diet and eat in moderation.