Exercise and the Fat Gene
The complex interaction between our genes and lifestyles can mean that some people are more likely to pack on pounds than others.
Although it is not completely understood, several genetic variants have been linked to obesity, but there isn't just "one" gene.
However, the most common of these is FTO. Half of all people in Europe carry either one or two copies of it.
The short of it is that people who carry two copies of the FTO gene significantly increases the chances of becoming obese.
Scientists believe about 30 percent of white people of European ancestry have this variant, including the Amish, and that may partly explain why so many people are overweight.
The good news is a recent study carried out among the US Amish community found an active lifestyle appeared to remove this risk.
This study from the University of Maryland supports other research which suggests that a person's level of exercise may help determine whether their genetic makeup will contribute to obesity.
The researchers looked at 704 Amish men and women, chosen because of that community's relative genetic "purity," with members generally able to trace their ancestry back for 14 generations to early settlers from Europe.
Volunteers were fitted with "accelerometers," measuring their precise movements over a period of time.
They found that while the expected link between the number of copies of FTO carried and increased body mass index could be seen in less active volunteers, that link was broken once in those who recorded high levels of activity – equivalent to three to four hours of moderately intensive activity.
Dr Soren Snitker, who led the research, said:
"Our results strongly suggest that the increased risk of obesity due to genetic susceptibility can be blunted through physical activity."
"Some of the genes shown to cause obesity in our modern environment may not have had this effect a few centuries ago when most people's lives were similar to that of present-day Amish farmers."
So what does this mean for us with weight loss goals?
I think it means that if you have a propensity to be overweight, it would be a good idea to exercise regularly. This study suggests three hours a day!!! But this is moderate activity.
It would be interesting if they do some more research to get us the minimum amount and type of exercise which would negate this gene – but until then it is just speculation.
If you have a hard time getting motivated to exercise – we have a session on Dr. Temes' hypnosis sessions that pretty much makes it automatic that you work out at least one time a day.
My mom never exercised in her life until she started the program 3 years ago, and now does at least some physical activity 6 days a week.
Sorry for the plug, but it just made sense – read more about it here:
It is a great read.