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Role of Genetics and Heredity Obesity


I have some friends who tell me that their obesity is simply due to their genetics. Is this true?

Because each person is born with a unique genetic composition, losing bodyfat and keeping it off can be more challenging for some people than others.

Your genes can influence how quickly you feel full when eating, how physically active you are prone to be, and your metabolic rate, for example. As a result, some people may be genetically more vulnerable to gaining weight and certain environmental triggers can make these people more susceptible to becoming obese.

So what percentage of the population is obese because of genetics? Some scientists claim that most obesity cases are influenced by genetics, some claim that the influence is negligible, and many believe that the right explanation rests between the two views.

Some scientists believe that certain inherited genes don’t necessarily make individuals obese, they merely give them a predisposition for becoming obese, but it is the learned or acquired behaviours of overeating and inactivity that cause the weight gain.

While science shows that heredity is linked to obesity, it is impossible to pinpoint the degree of correlation. There is little debate, however, over the genetic determination of body shape. Some people are more likely to put weight on their hips and thighs, and this is harder to lose than belly fat.

‘Obesity runs in my family, and it is impossible for me to lose weight’ is a classic excuse for not trying to lose weight, and it can be a convenient way of blaming others for an individual’s state.

Obesity tends to run in some families, suggesting a genetic link. But families also share diet and lifestyle habits that contribute to obesity. There seems to be a greater chance that people are heavy because of conditioned behaviours they learned from their family, than because of genetics.

People can still succeed with fat loss despite a genetic predisposition to gain weight, although it may take more work and patience, and perhaps medical intervention.