Can Exercise Help to Battle the Obesity Gene?

Yes, it can, say top researchers in the field.

There is a new study that suggests that even moderate physical activity can cut the influence of an obesity-related gene variation by more than 25%, according to Amanda Gardner, of

The ‘obesity gene’ has been shown to increase the risk of obesity by 20% or more depending on how many copies the person inherits. The gene is common and does not discriminate as 75% of both white and black people have it and 44% of Asians, PLoS Medicine says.

Gardner writes, “Exercise may not be able to neutralize this predisposition entirely, but the study findings drive home the lesson that genes aren’t fate when it comes to obesity, says senior author Ruth Loos, PhD, a researcher at the Institute of Metabolic Science, in Cambridge, England.  

“Even people who are genetically predisposed to [obesity] can, at least in part, reduce that genetic susceptibility by living a physically active lifestyle,” Loos says. “Too often, people…may have thought they had no control over their own obesity risk, while we show that they do. It is still hard to lose weight or to stay lean, but it is possible.”

Simple exercises like walking the dog, riding a bike to work, etc, as long as it takes at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week will lower your obesity risk, Loos said.

“Obviously genetic predisposition is important, but what you do with the disposition is also important,” says Mitchell Roslin, MD, the chief of bariatric surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, who was not involved in the study. “We look like our parents, we act like our parents—but we’re also in control of our own destiny by how physically fit we are.”  

Gardner concludes with a wonderful quote from Lennert Veerman, MD, a researcher at the University of Queensland School of Population Health, in Brisbane, Australia. 

“…extra weight” associated with gene variations is “not inevitable but can be lost by being active,” says Dr. Veerman, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. “But for persons who don’t have those genes, physical activity is also good. If persons are overweight, and even if they are not, it is always advisable to be physically active.”

I couldn’t agree more. It seems that the more we look at the total health picture, including weight, the more we find that the answer is – exercise. As we say regularly here, eat less, move more.

There is a great deal of very healthy personal satisfaction in accomplishing a goal on our own. This is equally as valuable to us as losing the weight. It feels good to take responsibility for ourselves. Achieving the goal and accepting the responsibility makes it all the more likely that you will keep the weight off and not slip back into careless consumption.


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Filed under Exercise, obesity, Weight

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