Are my genes making me overweight?
Genes can absolutely play a role in an individual’s predisposition to become overweight or obese, just as they do for a number of other diseases such as breast and ovarian cancer. While not everyone who is obese has a genetic predisposition to be so, it is now well established that being overweight, as well as, some types of obesity tend to run in families. In fact, the risk of being obesity between double and eight times higher for those with a family history of obesity versus a person without any family history of obesity.
What genes predispose a person to be overweight or obese?
Currently, there are now over 63,000 genetic test that can assess an individual’s predisposition for more than 4,500 diseases. Among those that affect weight are genes that determine how the body reacts to insulin and metabolize fat. Other genes are associated with addictive behavior, such as overeating. There’s also an “appetite” gene that affects how quickly the brain alerts the body that it's full and time to stop eating.
What can be done if I am genetically predisposed to be overweight?
Genes can play a role in a person becoming overweight or obese, however, you don’t have to be controlled by this predisposition. Both behavior and genes are responsible. The results of genetic testing provide helpful tools in devising the most effective way to effectively address an individual’s weight problem. For example, a patient who is insulin-resident and therefore has difficulty processing carbohydrates can be prescribed a low-carb diet, while a person who is insulin-sensitive could benefit from a low-fat plan. Similarly, someone whose brain lags in signaling the feeling of fullness might be advised to eat smaller meals so his or her brain can catch up in delivering the message so the person doesn’t overeat.