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What Role Do Genes Play in Obesity Risk?

Jun 13, 2023
What Role Do Genes Play in Obesity Risk?
Are you worried your genes are making you gain weight? Take a moment to learn about the complex relationship between genetics and obesity and the ways we can help you reach a healthy body weight.

If you’re concerned about your weight, you’re not alone. Nearly three-quarters of American adults are overweight or obese, which means more United States adults are at an unhealthy body weight. 

To survive, your body consumes and expends energy, which is measured as calories. If you take in more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Being overweight or obese results from a chronic imbalance between energy intake and expenditure.

At Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers Pompano Beach, our team offers comprehensive and personalized medical weight loss solutions. One of the questions our providers are asked most often is whether genetics play a role in weight gain. 

The answer? It’s complicated. 

Keep reading to learn more about the role genetic factors play in obesity risk and the ways we can help you maintain a healthy body weight. 

The connection between genes and obesity

Obesity is a disease triggered by multiple factors, and genes can play a role. For example, researchers have found the presence of the high-risk fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) can trigger:

  • Increased hunger and calorie intake
  • Less control over eating
  • Reduced feelings of satiety
  • Tendency to store more body fat

However, human genes haven’t changed much in the past few hundred years. Yet over the last four decades, obesity rates across the globe have risen dramatically, with global obesity almost tripling in the last 40 years. That means that there’s more to obesity than genes alone. 

Obesity as a result of multiple factors

Some rare genetic mutations can directly lead to obesity, but for the vast majority (over 95%) of people who struggle with weight, genes are only one factor that contributes. 

In other words, having a genetic predisposition to obesity alone isn’t enough to trigger excessive weight gain. Instead, obesity depends on the interaction between genetics, environment, and lifestyle. 

Even when it appears obesity runs in families, it’s often the learned behaviors and lifestyle choices that contribute the most to expanding waistlines. 

For example, different parent feeding behaviors can lead to excessive weight gain in childhood and adulthood, including using food as a reward for good behavior, allowing “picky eating,” and pushing children to eat when not hungry.

Other environmental and lifestyle factors that interact with genetic predispositions for obesity and can contribute to weight gain include:

  • Access to and intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods
  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity
  • Poor sleep quality or lack of sufficient sleep
  • Unhealthy stress management 
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Lower socioeconomic status or lack of education access

The bottom line is that even if you have a genetic predisposition for obesity, most people won’t become obese unless they also have the lifestyle and environmental factors to support weight gain. 

And that’s good news because it means that no matter your genetic predisposition, you can reach a healthy weight!

The importance of personalized weight loss planning

If you’re struggling to lose weight, it could be because obesity is a complex disease that results from an intricate interplay between genetics, environment, lifestyle, and more. For these reasons, a personalized approach to weight management is essential. 

At Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers Pompano Beach, our providers tailor specific weight-loss interventions to your unique needs. That allows us to optimize your weight-loss outcomes and make changes as needed to your plan. 

We review your medical history, weight history, and lifestyle needs and use this information to create personalized recommendations and guidance on a goal weight, diet plans, nutritional counseling, exercise recommendations, and weight-loss injections.

Because our team knows weight management is a lifelong undertaking, our help doesn’t stop once you reach your goal weight. Your provider helps you maintain your goal weight so you enjoy long-term weight-loss success. 

If you want to know more about the connection between genes and obesity and how we can help you reach your goal weight, schedule a free consultation online or over the phone with a provider at Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers Pompano Beach.