Some of us aren’t lucky to be born with “skinny genes”, those with the FTO gene are on average 3kg heavier, and 70% more likely than everyone else to be obese. So we can definitely blame our genes for being heavier. HOWEVER, that’s where the blame stops says researchers at Newcastle University.
John Mathers, Professor of Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, who led the study, says in terms of weight loss you can’t pin the blame on your genes. “Our study shows that improving your diet and being more physically active will help you lose weight, regardless of your genetic makeup.”
The FTO gene is found in 44% of Europeans, 5% of Africans, and 21% of Asians. Carriers of the genes also tend to crave high-sugar and high-fat foods. These foods have high energy density, and for our ancestors this would help us cope with food shortages than those who didn’t carry that gene. Unfortunately for us in cushy 21st century first world countries the gene is more of a hindrance than a help… Talk about first world problems.
We were excited to find that people with the risk version of FTO respond just as well to weight loss interventions as everyone else.
In a massive meta-analysis of eight studies involving 9,563 people the researchers found that people who carry the gene did not prevent them from losing weight.
“We were excited to find that people with the risk version of FTO respond just as well to weight loss interventions as everyone else.” Mathers says.
“This is important news for people trying to lose weight as it means that diet, physical activity or drug-based weight loss plans will work just as well in those who carry the risk version of FTO.”
“For public health professionals, it means that the adverse effects of the FTO genotype on weight gain are not an impediment to weight loss interventions.”
Last year it was announced that MIT and Harvard researchers may be able to find a way of “turning off” the effects of the FTO gene. But for now it seems those of us who may be on the back foot slightly have no excuse but to get cracking with losing weight ourselves.