A new study published in the journal Nature found that genetics plays a bigger role in the development of obesity than was previously thought. Researchers from the University of Michigan unveiled the results of a genome-wide association study looking at body mass index (BMI), a common measure of obesity, in close to 400,000 individuals (Nature, 518:197-206;February 11, 2015).
This new research finds that as much as 21% of BMI variation can be accounted for by genetics. There are about 100 locations across the genome that plays roles in various obesity traits, double than what was previously thought.
“This research may help determine who is at risk of developing diseases associated with obesity and may lend insight into future treatment,” says Elaine Trujillo, nutritionist and author of The Calories In Calories Out Cookbook. “We have known that one size does not fit all when it comes to weight gain, development of risk factors and even obesity treatment. Now we have more research to support that notion,” Trujillo adds.
According to Caroline Apovian, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and the Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center, Boston Medical Center, Boston University, “For those of us treating obesity, this is exciting news because particular genes and pathways affecting BMI have been implicated that respond to changes in eating behavior. Once we can figure out which of these genes are implicated in each patient, we can tailor the treatment of their obesity based on their particular genetic profile. For example, one of the pathways implicated in this paper is one that is the proposed mechanism of action of the combination of drugs recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of obesity – topiramate/phentermine. Based on genetic profiles, we may be able to predict which patients will be successful at weight loss with this particular drug combination (topiramate/phentermine) as opposed to another treatment if they have this pathway variation. Also, we may be able to predict who will do well with bariatric surgery in the future.”
In a companion paper on waist-to-hip circumference ratios, 49 sites in the genome were identified (Nature 518:187-186; February 12, 2015). The waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference alone are used to determine fat distribution and abdominal fatness and is a marker for developing diseases associated with obesity. Men who have waist circumferences greater than 40 inches and women who have waist circumferences greater than 35 inches are at higher risk of diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and cardio-vascular disease.
Much more research is needed to determine how the genetic variations in individuals lead to weight gain in some and not in others. Some of the genes involved in obesity may be related to other diseases, this research is a step in uncovering the biological basis to a whole host of metabolic diseases. Although genetic background may be a useful tool in the future for developing personalized diets for weight loss and health, those who are already living in calorie balance and engaging in regular physical activity will have the basis for a foundation for healthy living.
CATHERINE JONES is the award-winning author or coauthor of numerous cookbooks including The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook, Eating for Pregnancy, and Eating for Lower Cholesterol. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Share Your Calories, an app developer, blogger, and a freelance journalist. ELAINE TRUJILLO, MS, RDN, is a nutritionist who has years of experience promoting nutrition and health and has written numerous scientific journal articles, chapters and textbooks.
Recent studies have shown that more people are getting overweight every year. This happens not only to adults but even to kids who have just started in school.
A lot of factors cause this to happen such as genetics, overeating, the type of food taken into the body and as people age, the metabolism slows down making it harder than before to burn the food that was just consumed.
There are many ways to solve this problem. Some have decided to undergo surgery, while others have decided to change the dietary intake and exercise.
Since this takes time and most people cant wait to get rid of the extra weight, these people have decided to take the fastest way out which is through the use of weightloss drugs.
In the 1950s until the late 90s, doctors prescribed drugs for weightloss. The drug works by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain that makes the brain believe that the stomach is already full and thus, increases the persons metabolic rate.
It was only after scientists discovered that these drugs had side effects and were related to cause heart valve disease that these were taken off the shelves.
Later on, new drugs were developed and prescribed by doctors and many of which are still waiting for FDA approval.
Most people have known friends or family members who have tried using diet pills and have seen tremendous improvement. The idea that a simple drug can change everything without the need to change the diet or sacrificing anything is very tempting.
This has made consumers spend millions of dollars every year and has given drug companies a lot of money making and selling the drug.
Diet pills can be purchased either over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor. Even with the advances in medical technology, these drugs can still cause a lot of health related problems which can be unpleasant such as diarrhea and vomiting, harmful such as tightness in the chest and urinary tract problems and fatal such as a heart attack or a stroke.
An overdose of the diet pills can cause tremors, confusion, hallucinations, shallow breathing, renal failure, heart attack and convulsions.
The side effects vary depending on the lifestyle and health of the person and can be minimized as long as one consults the doctor first before buying it.
Should one decide to stop using the drugs, studies have shown that there are also side effects. These include noticeable mood swings, hyper-activity, and pain in the stomach, insomnia and nightmares, severe irritability, extreme fatigue, depression, nausea, vomiting and trembling.
A lot of clinical tests will show that the drugs taken to lose weight really work. But this can only work if it is done with a low calorie diet and an exercise plan.
A good diet should have food from all the food groups. This should have vitamins, minerals and fiber. A lot can come from oats, rice, potatoes and cereals. The best still come from vegetables and fruits since these have phytochemicals, enzymes and micronutrients that are essential for a healthy diet.
A person can jog every morning or sign up and workout in a gym. Just like taking any medicine, one should first consult the doctor before undergoing any form of exercise.
The best exercise plan should have cardiovascular and weight training exercises. This helps burn calories and increase the muscle to fat ratio that will increase ones metabolism and lose weight.
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