Genetics ‘no barrier to weight loss’

genetics weight loss

People who are genetically more predisposed to putting on weight are just as likely to benefit from weight-loss programmes as those who aren’t, according to new research.

Those with two copies of a particular version of the FTO gene are on average 3kg heavier and 1.7 times more likely to be obese than those without, according to the Newcastle University.

Obesity a growing problem

Around 16% of people have these replicated genes. But the new research suggests this shouldn’t be a barrier to losing weight through dietary changes, exercise or drug-based approaches.

In 2014, a total of 61.7% of adults were classed as being overweight or obese.

By 2050, obesity is predicted to affect 60% of adult men, 50% of adult women and 25% of children.

Research suggests the genetic variant FTO makes high-calorie food more attractive to carriers, and also makes them feel less full after a meal.

No effect on weight loss

John Mathers, lead author of the research published in the British Medical Journal, says while it’s clear genetics plays a part in why some people put on more weight than others, it shouldn’t effect weight loss ability.

The research team looked at eight previous randomised control trials involving over 9,500 overweight or obese people.

They tested each participant for the genetic variant, and whether they had one copy or two.

The results show that for each copy of the gene, participants were on average 0.9kg heavier. 

After putting the participants on various weight loss programmes over a three-year period, the research team found they lost just as much weight if they had the FTO gene as if they didn’t.

Mr Mathers said the results don’t show how genetics affects long-term weight loss or whether short-term weight loss could be sustained over longer periods.


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