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Bringing you the latest in health and fitness


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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.


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High Fructose Intake Beneficial In Athletes


High-fructose corn syrup is the principal sweetening agent in most high-sugar soft drinks. Fructose provides the sweet taste in fruits. In sedentary people, it is linked to an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, abnormal blood fats, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar regulation, inflammation and blood-clotting abnormalities). People consume about 300 more calories per day more than they did 30 years ago, largely because of an increased intake of fructose. A report published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, stated that a high fructose intake was beneficial for athletes. Fructose stimulates the digestion and promotes carbohydrate used during exercise, which are important for optimal performance. Intense training involves high energy expenditure, which protects athletes from the negative effects of fructose experienced by sedentary people.


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Leucine Improves Blood Sugar Control


Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid that serves as a building block for new proteins, and is a key signalling chemical for protein synthesis and blood sugar regulation. A study in Nutrition Metabolism, conducted by Columbia University in New York City, found that leucine improved blood sugar control in obese and diabetic mice. The mice were given leucine supplements in their drinking water for 8 months. Leucine stimulates insulin release by the pancreas and promotes the production of the amino acid glutamine, which is important for immune system health. Long-term supplementation of leucine improves the efficiency of insulin metabolism in people with type II diabetes.


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Green Tea Cuts Fat and Prevents Free Radical Damage


Green tea is a popular weight loss supplement. A controlled study published in the Journal of American College Nutrition, reported that green tea or green tea extract supplements reduced body fat and prevented oxidative cell damage in obese people with the metabolic syndrome (eg. high blood pressure, abdominal fat deposition, insulin resistance, abnormal blood fats). People lost an average of 5.5lb of fat and reduced BMI (Body Mass Index, measure of the proportion of weight to height) by 1.9 points. Green tea (4 cups per day) or green tea extract (2 tablets per day) improved metabolic health in obese people.


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Ab Fat Linked To Alzheimer’s Disease


Abdominal fat deposition is a sign of poor metabolic heath. It is an important symptom of the Metabolic Syndrome that includes insulin resistance, abnormal blood fats, high blood pressure, any type II diabetes. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that midlife abdominal obesity increased the risk of dementia. CT scans of the abdomen and brains of 733 older adults (average age of 60) showed that those with more abdominal fat had the greatest rates of brain deterioration.