Obesity gene not to blame for inability to lose weight, study says

Over one in eight adults are now obese -- a ratio that has more than doubled since 1975 and will swell to one in five by 2025, a major survey reported April 1, 2016. Of about five billion adults alive in 2014, 641 million were obese, the data showed -- and projected the number will balloon past 1.1 billion in just nine years. / AFP (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK,RONALDO SCHEMIDT,PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images). ROBYN BECK,RONALDO SCHEMIDT,PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Just because you have the obesity gene, it doesn’t make it any harder for you to lose weight.

According to a study published in The BMJresearchers found no link between the FTO genotype – commonly referred to as the obesity gene – and one’s ability to lose weight.

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“It has become clear that genetics play a part in the reason why some of us get fatter,” John Mathers, lead author of the study from Newcastle University, told The Guardian. “The one that has the biggest effect in most people is the FTO gene, so we wondered whether having the (high-risk version of the) FTO gene would affect how well you could lose weight.”

The study looked at 10,000 participants of various ages, genders, ethnicity and baseline BMI in eight randomized trials. Regardless of the participants’ make up, those with the FTO genotype responded just as well to a healthier diet, regular exercise and drug-based weight loss interventions as their counterparts who did not carry the gene.

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These results, researchers say, suggest that environmental factors play a bigger role in weight gain and retention.

While there are several other obesity-related genes to be taken into account, The Guardian reports that the FTO gene is believed to increase the appeal of foods high in calories.

The exact physiological function of the FTO gene is unknown but is linked to the nervous and cardiovascular systems and has a strong association with BMI, obesity risk and type 2 diabetes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

READ MORE: Top 6 weight loss mistakes, according to diet and exercise experts

One study out of the Columbia University Medical Center says the FTO gene affects the functions of the primary cilium, a hair-like appendage on the brain and other cells.

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When abnormalities are present on the cilium molecules, this increases body weight and can sometimes affect the function of receptors for leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite.

Despite researchers excluding other types of obesity genes in this study, the NY Daily News says the research makes a good case for others to improve their lifestyle through diet and exercise rather than solely relying on individual interventions based on genetic makeup.

Some simple things people can do, according to a report by Global News reporter Patricia Kozicka, include:

  • Eating three meals a day, leaving no more than six hours between them, with snacks when needed;
  • Being mindful of what you eat. Just because the food looks healthy, it doesn’t mean that it is;
  • Remembering fibre is your friend;
  • Learning how to exercise. Cardio alone won’t help you lose weight;
  • Reducing your stress levels;
  • Getting enough sleep.

According to 2014 numbers by Statistics Canada, 20 per cent of adult Canadians and six per cent of youth ages 12 to 17 are obese.

With files from Patricia Kozicka

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