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Is It Your Grandma's Fault?

Genetics play a role in obesity, but there are solutions

Your genes are what make you – you!  It’s why some people have brown eyes and some have red hair. Genetics play a role in almost every aspect of who you are but do genetics also play a role in determining your waist size?

Weight loss seems simple enough – you consume fewer calories than you burn off.

But why is it so hard for some people to lose weight?  Why do some people naturally store more body fat than others?  It’s a complicated combination of different metabolic processes, which can be affected by our genetic makeup.

Genes are our bodies’ blueprints, which inform our bodies how to grow, develop and function.  Research has shown that differences in genetics can lead to weight issues and most people have a genetic predisposition to obesity.

One genetic mutation that has been getting a lot of attention lately is called the Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated Protein (FTO). Scientists have found that people with certain differences in this gene have a 20%-30% higher risk of obesity.  According to the CDC, people who carry this gene are genetically predisposed to overeating because they don’t feel satiated when they eat reasonable portions.  Studies show that the FTO gene is associated with increased BMI in certain ethnic groups; 42% of Caucasians, 54% of African Americans and 16% of Asians carry the gene.

"Common obesity" may also have a genetic link. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, this form of obesity is believed to be affected by multiple genes rather than a single gene. Common obesity may help explain why some people tend to carry more body fat than others.

So, if your parents are obese, does that mean you will be too?  Not necessarily.  Lifestyle factors are vitally important - and genetics don’t explain the rapid spread of obesity.

So what has changed in the past 50 years? Our lifestyles and eating habits; the physical, social and economic factors that influence how much we eat and how active we are.  Changes in our environment have made it easier for us to overeat and harder for us to stay active. Processed foods abundantly available night and day, the decrease in physically activity jobs and recreational time spent watching television and using our phones have all contributed to the influx of obesity.

“Bad” genetics doesn’t mean obesity is your destiny. The contribution of genetics to obesity is small, heavily outweighed by lifestyle choices. The most important choice is portion size; consuming fewer calories than you burn off.

Dr. Gaston has been helping patients control, learn and adapt their bodies to proper portion size for over four years now, with over sixty patients achieving and maintaining their weight loss goals. With the Orbera and AspireAssist non-surgical, non-invasive, temporary weight loss procedures, there are no incisions, no stitches, no hospital stay and a quick recovery time.

No matter what your family history or genetic makeup, Dr. Gaston can help you lose weight for the long term. Consultations are free. Click "make an appointment" or call (773) 238-1126.

Metro Gastroenterology Consultants

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