Posted by That Other Mike on 08/02/2008
Via BBC News:
Obesity ‘may be largely genetic’
Becoming overweight as a child is more likely to be the result of your genes than your lifestyle, claims a study.
University College London researchers examined more than 5,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins.
Their American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that differences in body mass index and waist size were 77% governed by genes.
An anti-obesity group said regardless of genes, a balanced diet and exercise were vital to good health.
It is wrong to place all the blame for a child’s excessive weight gain on the parents – it is more likely to be due to the child’s genetic susceptibility
Professor Jane Wardle University College London
Children who are overweight are likely to be overweight or obese in adulthood, raising the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes later in life.
However, despite the emergence of some possible genes that contribute to obesity, there is still debate as to the extent to which we are pre-programmed to be overweight by our genetic makeup.
The study, from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL, goes some way to answering that question.
However… A genetic propensity towards obesity doesn’t alter the fact that diet and lifestyle do play a part. You may be predisposed towards obesity, but you’re unlikely to become dangerously overweight by eating sensibly and taking moderate exercise, barring other indicators to the contrary, of course.
And before anyone starts, I’m fully aware that BMI is a crock of shite; that obesity is on the verge of becoming a moral panic; that OMG! teh fats! is a cheap and easy way out of doing work for yellow press journalists; and that we should be fully accepting of people’s rights to be regarded as full human beanz without prejudice according to weight, as a matter of personal autonomy if nothing else…
Body fat is like any other human characteristic – it exists within a range which allows for a wide variety of variation. There is no specific ideal weight for height. However – you can be too thin and too fat for your own good health, and while these two extremes are not as common as made out in the red tops, they are on the rise.
We ought to encourage people to be taking good amounts of exercise and be giving good diet advice as a matter of course; children especially, because it is as children that we inculcate the habits of later life, habits which can be hard to break.