Weight and Genetics

Monday, March 07, 2016
Weight and Genetics

No matter how hard you exercise or how much you diet, you just can’t zip those jeans…. It’s not your fault you tell yourself; it’s their fault! Not the jeans’, the genes’! Just as you inherited your dad’s sense of humor and your mom’s wavy hair, you inherited your big butt! If only you were born to a supermodel mom and a hunk of a dad, life would be so great!


If this sounds like you, you need to read on!   Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are wrong…. And this is your wake up call. Stop making excuses!  Those jeans can fit you.... it’s not the genes’ fault that the jeans don’t zip!


While there’s no denying that genes do play some role in the weight game, it doesn’t give us the right to throw our hands up in the air and blame our excess weight on our family tree. Genetic factors alone are not the cause of being overweight - they only increase a person’s susceptibility to excess weight gain.  This means that it is only when our genes interact with other factors, such as environmental and behavioral influences, that our chances of becoming overweight increase. 


If you’re still not convinced, you should know that research results don’t lie! A series of studies done on different sets of twins eliminated the possibility of genes being the only cause of excessive weight gain.  Furthermore, there has been a huge increase in the number of overweight people in the last 15-20 years.  Assuming that genes were responsible, this would mean that the gene pool would have to have changed drastically, but it is not possible for the genetic composition of a population to change that rapidly. Therefore, the large increase in overweight adults must be due to major changes in non-genetic factors.


If you want to point the finger, point it to all the environmental changes that have occurred; our food options and eating habits have changed immensely.  These days, we are not only eating more frequently and eating larger portion sizes, we are eating foods high in fats and sugars such as fast food, pre-packaged food, and soft drinks.  Somehow, making good nutritional choices has become inconvenient in our society.


We have increased time for socializing and we seem to be associating socializing with food and drink.  The growth of the fast food industry and the increased numbers and marketing of snack foods has resulted in a bounty of cheap and unhealthy food alternatives. 


And the finger pointing doesn’t end there!  We can just as rightly blame our lifestyle; we have become down right lazy! The opportunities we have in our daily life to burn energy have diminished – we need to get moving.  Technology has created many time and labor saving products.  We watch more TV, we drive even the shortest distances, we never opt for the stairs, and heavy housework and gardening is basically unheard of for the majority. These lifestyle changes have reduced the overall amount of energy expended in our daily lives. So we’re eating more, less-nutritious food and we’re moving less; is it any surprise that we have been packing on the pounds in record numbers? 


Bottom line is we can’t blame our big butt on our mom, or our flabby tummy on our dad, otherwise we run the risk of removing personal control and shifting blame to someone else.  We need to take responsibility for our bodies and put into action behavioral techniques designed to achieve greater control over biology.  It is about choice.  We all have the choice when it comes to when and what we eat and when we exercise. We have the choice to make those jeans fit and work with what Mother Nature has given us. We have the choice to stop making excuses…