Is obesity hereditary?
What is obesity?
Obesity and genes
Obesity and environment
What is obesity?
There are varied definition of obesity. Obesity indicates weight which is greater than what is otherwise considered to be healthy. It can be termed as a chronic condition wherein there is excess amount of body fat. Every individual body would need certain amount of fat for various reasons such as storing energy, for shock absorption, heat insulation and other functions. This condition is usually defined by checking the body mass index of the individual.
There is various health risk associated with obesity and it has now turned into epidemic given the change in lifestyles. There is a popular belief that obesity is majorly caused due to the genetic factor but rarely it has been actually seen that obesity can be caused by genetic factors. The genetic factors which are usually blamed for the individual being obese mostly comprises only a smaller portion of the overall risk. There have been cases wherein those individuals who do carry genes linked with obesity do not become overweight whereas in certain other individuals who do not have the obesity genes still show signs of obesity. It has also been seen that those individuals who are genetically obese can bring about changes in their weight by adopting a healthy lifestyle. They can alter their habits of eating and physical activity. Also with support of their friends and family they can bring about gradual change in their weight.
Hereditary rarities –
Genes as we all know have an influence on every aspect of human behavior, development physiology as well as adaptation. How can obesity be an exception, they are also linked in some form or the other. But very little is known about that specific genes which is known to contribute to the rising scale on that weighing machine. Humans all have similar genetic material but every individuals’ genome slightly varies. It is still not clear as to which of the variant can have an impact on the complex traits such as obesity. Certain studies believe that genetics is mostly responsible for at least 50 percent of the obesity cases hence it can be termed as genetic disorder which is very much similar on the lines of high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. But one cannot blame just one genes for the obesity epidemic. Is obesity hereditary? The answer to this question can be yes or no since there is nothing called as fat gene. We have virtually inherited a very powerful tendency towards obesity. This would mean that there may or may not be a specific gene but the tendency of being overweight can be magnified by the sheer presence of obesity in our parents.
It has been said that if one of the parents are obese then it is likely that the child will also develop obesity. Genes are known to affect the hormones the hormones which are involved in the fat regulation. Leptin deficiency is linked with the genetic cause of obesity. Leptin is known to be hormone produced by the fat cells and also in the placenta. This hormone controls the weight by signaling the brain to consume less food when there are high amounts of fat stored in the body. However due to certain reasons if the body cannot produce enough amount of leptin or if the leptin is unable to send signals to the brain then the control is lost and leads to occurrence of obesity since the body starts to eat more instead of less. Currently various options are being explored for the treatment wherein one of them is leptin replacement.
In one of the reports, the studies which were identified mentioned that in certain rare cases wherein obesity is solely linked with genetic mutations. One such rarest form of obesity is called as monogenetic obesity. This type of obesity occurs due to the spontaneous mutations in the single genes which are mostly involved in controlling of the appetite as well as the intake of food. There are also instances of genetic syndromes which can be associated with obesity. Those syndromes can be Prader-Willi syndrome and Bardet-Biedl syndromes.
“Common Obesity” is another one such condition which has been shown to have linkage with genes and obesity. This study has been based on the evidence collected from the animal or twin studies. It has been said that this form of common obesity is mostly affected by the multiple genes instead of single gene factor. Hence common obesity would help to understand why some individuals tend to carry more body fat than the other individuals. One major factor apart from the genes which also plays a major role in obesity is the changing lifestyle.
Bringing about the change –
Genes co only co-decide who would become obese but ultimately it is the environment which would determine how many of them actual become obese. Hence that is the reason why obesity prevention efforts should be carried out wherein the focus should be on changing the environment and also going in for healthier options which initially may not look easy but gradually the body would get used to the healthy habits.
There are several changes in the lifestyle which can be taken to prevent obesity in you as well as the family. Below are three important steps to avoid making obesity a genetic predisposition:
Walk Walk Walk: Walking has termed to be a very important means of keeping our body active especially in this busy world where most of the time we are glued in front of the screens. A simple 30 to 45 minutes’ walk can do wonders for the body. Initially start with low intensity walks and gradually upgrade the pace of walking. An individual should go in for walking five days a week. It need not be that these 30 minutes should be done at one go itself, based on the daily routine of the individual one can change or break this 30 minutes in shorter duration throughout the day. The first 10 minutes in the morning after you wake up, next 10 minutes’ post lunch, next 10 minutes can be done after dinner. The more the body does movement it would better for the overall health. It would burn calories as well as keep you away from diseases.
Dietary changes: Obesity can be bought under control by making small changes in the dietary pattern. One should go in for healthy form of eating, ensure proper diet without starving the body since starving tends to also make the body lose out on the important nutrients. Maintain a simple diet pattern and stick to it. You can consult a nutritionist who can suggest the proper eating pattern based on the overall health, age factor, gender and any underlying medical conditions. Work on increasing the intake of healthier food options and opt out of junk food, packaged and processed food items. It has been recommended that one must fill the plate with fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. Keep a track of what you eat by maintaining a diary. This would help you to understand what you have eaten and also keep a count on your calories.
Improve quality of sleep and manage stress: Stress is known to always have a linkage with obesity and other medical conditions. When one is stressed they tend to just eat anything, leading to unhealthy eating patterns. This would in turn lead to increase in the weight. It is not always easy to manage stress but taking smaller steps towards feeling relaxed and calm is always a better option. Try doing yoga, meditation and also spend time with family and friends.
By following these diligently, you will be amazed at the changes in yourself. It would make you feel good and relaxed along with improvement in the sleep. Even if the obesity factor is due to genes, bringing it in control is our responsibility.