You may have blamed your genes for your weight gain and increased risk of obesity , but you can no longer blame your genes for your inability to lose weight. These are the findings of a comprehensive new study.
People with the FTO gene were believed to be on average 3 pounds (6.6 pounds) heavier and 70% more likely to be obese. Researchers at the University of Newcastle published a report in the journal BMJ that reviewed eight studies involving 9,000 people and found that the gene did not prevent weight loss.
“You can no longer blame your genes,” said John Mathers, a professor of nutrition at the University of Newcastle and lead author of the study. Our study showed that improving nutrition and increasing physical activity helps you lose weight and has nothing to do with the arrangement of your genes.
Obesity is a major health problem and more than 25% of adults in the UK are obese. For some people, having the FTO gene, which is one of the variables in calculating the risk of obesity, can lead to heavier weights and increase their risk of obesity. The FTO gene has been shown to be most influential in this area.
In a massive meta-analysis and systematic review, the international team of researchers used data from 9,563 adults who participated in randomized, controlled weight loss trials around the world to see if having the risky FTO gene affected the amount of weight loss. Does it have an effect?
They found that having the FTO risky gene had no effect on weight loss. “We were very excited that people with the FTO risk gene responded as well as other people to the weight loss measures,” said Professor Maters.
This is important news for people who want to lose weight, which means that diet, exercise, or drug-based weight loss programs work just as well for people with the FTO risk gene.
For public health professionals, this means that the negative effects of the FTO genotype do not preclude weight loss measures.
FTO gene holders
More importantly, the research team found that the response to weight loss measures for people with the FTO risk gene was similar among men and women, young and old, and people of different races. However, most of the people in this study were Caucasians, and a smaller number were black or African / American, Hispanic, and Chinese. The research team said further studies should examine the effect of FTOs on weight loss in other racial groups. In addition, the effect of other obesity-related genes on weight loss has yet to be investigated.
In a related editorial at BMJ, Dr. Ellison Ted Stone said the causes of obesity are many and complex, but current evidence suggests that these causes do not fit very well into genes.
He argues that focusing on actions based on each person’s genome does not work, at least in the short term, if we are to reverse the trend of obesity. Instead, re-modifying research that addresses the overall purpose of the system, including environmental stimuli, can be of greater benefit to people in the long run.