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Nature & Science

Study Suggests ‘Skinny Genes’ Could Contribute To Maintaining A Slim Figure

Image Source: Unsplash

Have you ever wondered why some individuals seem to have an easier time staying slim, even without intense dieting and exercise? The answer may lie in their genes. A research conducted at Cambridge University suggests that genetic factors play a significant role in helping thin people maintain their weight compared to those who are overweight. The study involved analyzing various genetic variants to create a genetic risk score, which was found to be lower in thin individuals and higher in obese individuals. The lead scientist, Sadaf Farooqi, aims to shed light on the struggles faced by individuals with weight issues, emphasizing that weight is more than just what we eat or how much we exercise, as scientific evidence suggests that our weight is influenced by factors beyond our control.

A previous study on twins demonstrated that approximately 40% of an individual’s weight is determined by genetic factors.

Genetic Risk Score

Farooqi’s team examined the DNA of 14,000 individuals, including 1,622 individuals who were thin without having eating disorders or medical conditions, 1,985 extremely obese individuals, and 10,433 individuals with normal weight. Saliva or blood samples were collected for DNA analysis. Researchers focused on genetic variants that had already been associated with obesity. By considering over 100 different genetic variants, they calculated a genetic risk score and discovered that thin or normal weight individuals had a significantly lower genetic risk score compared to overweight or obese individuals. This suggests that slim people possess fewer genes associated with weight gain.

“Thinness is a Heritable Trait”

There are specific genetic factors linked to healthy thinness. Thin individuals possess unique genes that help protect them from weight gain. Thus, thinness is also influenced by hereditary traits. Farooqi’s future research aims to identify these specific genes in order to develop new weight loss methods for individuals who do not possess such genetic advantages. Obesity is associated with various health problems, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, all of which are leading causes of death.

Challenging Assumptions about Weight

The study challenges the common stereotype that overweight individuals are simply lazy or lack willpower. Dr. Steve Mowle, an honorary treasurer at the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK, warns that while genetics certainly play a significant role in reducing the risk of obesity, an unhealthy lifestyle remains a contributing risk factor.

Additionally, Dr. Mowle emphasizes that general practitioners will always encourage all patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle, regardless of their weight or genetic predisposition. This includes following a balanced diet, getting sufficient sleep, engaging in regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation, and not smoking.

Image Source: Unsplash

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