More and more people around the world are suffering from severe obesity. It is not uncommon for the whole family to be obese. The majority of our society still does not regard obesity as a disease, but as the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Even some doctors think this way. But the fact is: It is not only poor diet or lack of exercise that is to blame for morbid obesity. Genes also play a decisive role in the development of obesity.
Tendency to be overweight is inherited
There are numerous studies that have investigated the influence of genes on the development of obesity. Studies on twins show that 60% to 80% of body weight is hereditary. In terms of body mass index (BMI), adopted twins are much more likely to resemble their biological parents than their adoptive parents. Particularly impressive are studies of twins in which identical twins grew up separately. They were significantly more similar in weight than fraternal twins. Scientists today know that genes have a central influence on the feeling of satiety, fat metabolism and fat distribution. They also determine, for example, how much energy your body uses at rest or how great your urge to exercise is.
Genes make you fat
In addition to the studies on twins, other family studies show that there is a genetic predisposition to obesity. For example, children of parents with obesity have a significantly higher risk of becoming overweight, even if they grow up in an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle. This correlation suggests that the inheritance of certain genetic variants can increase the risk of obesity. Researchers are constantly discovering new genes and gene variants that have an influence on our body weight. For example, around one in five children with severe obesity has a genetic variant in their genome that is responsible for a malfunction in the regulation of hunger or satiety in the brain. These children usually develop obesity at pre-school age. Are we helplessly at the mercy of our genes? It’s not quite that simple.
Genes and lifestyle – a complicated relationship
Genetic predisposition can increase the individual risk of developing obesity, but it is not solely responsible for severe obesity. Genes lay the foundation, but environmental factors, lifestyle, diet and exercise also play a role in the development of obesity. Unfortunately, you can’t just rely on your “bad” genes when you’re overweight. However, you can counteract the development of severe obesity and improve your health. After all, anyone can make changes to their lifestyle!