Do You Have the Obesity Gene?

By Ted

obesity-hunger-gene

British researchers discovered that people with an FTO gene variation are 70% more likely to become obese.

That’s approximately 1 in 6 people!

People with this genetic variation have higher levels of the hunger hormone (ghrelin) in their bloodstream and their brains are also more sensitive to the hormone.

I must not have this variation since I’ve never struggled with overwhelming feelings of hunger and I’ve never been overweight. It’s easy for us skinny people to trivialize weight loss by just boiling it down to eating less and moving more. While this is essentially true, it just isn’t that easy for some people.

Now we have even more evidence that this is indeed the case. Some people are driven by internal forces to eat that I will never understand nor relate to. People could address all the emotional reasons for overeating and still be predispositioned to be obese.

This lovely girl has 5 reasons why she overeats, but I bet she has has the gene variation.

I can be in every situation she describes and not overeat. It’s not that I’m disciplined, I’m just not hungry.

Ways to Beat the Hunger Gene

This new research will possibly lead to new medications that can counteract too much ghrelin production, but until then there are ways to reduce the hunger hormone’s dominance.

  • Eating a high protein diet.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Increasing leptin production.
  • Eating smaller meals more frequently.

If you feel like this research applies to you, the above suggestions may help some. Hopefully, this gives you a greater understanding as to why you overeat.

This research helps me to be more understanding of why people eat too much and why some people are obese. It’s such a hard road for many people and when their own body is working against thier efforts, the hill is much more steep.

Do you think you may have the obesity gene?

19 Comments

  1. Michael Banashak

    Obesity is more hereditary than ANY MEDICAL COMDITION EVER STUDIED EXCEPT FOR HEIGHT, WHI H IT IS ONLY A SMIDGEN
    U DER…… STOP lying to sell your garbage. Age, health states, hereditaty ALL AFFECT cellular respiration. Calories are NOT ANYTHI G AND NKT EVEN REMOTELY THE SAME AS BIOLOGICAL OXODATION.

    Reply
  2. Heather

    I believe I do. I’m the only person I know who can run 80-100 miles a week and be chubby. My whole family is far more obese than I am without the running.

    There’s interesting data in epigenetics if you look at the Dutch Hunger Winter – and the multigenerational effect starvation has. Also, look at some of the research with Agouti mice – genetically identical populations with wide range in obesity. Dnmt3a and Trim28, I believe… There’s a lot of fascinating research about all that plays in.

    Of course, none of it makes being healthy and thin impossible, but the levels of difficulty is different from person to person.

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    • Heather

      Well, not necessarily this gene, because I don’t feel hungry so often. I have had my metabolism tested as much slower than average. I do believe I have additional genetic/epigenetic influences that make it more difficult verse many of my peers.

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  3. Mary Hartley, RD, MPH

    I’ll bet that lovely girl DOESN’T have the gene variation. Fewer than 5% of the population has it. Don’t confused psychological binge-eating with physical genetics. I know, because I’m a nutritionist, who has counseled more then 20,000 patients.

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    • Jim F

      Insightful comment. As fast as we uncover genetic predispositions, science is also shedding light on epigenetics, or gene expression (http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/07/economist-explains-7) – showing how little we really know about how it all works.

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    • Michael Banashak

      Wro g 15% have it. Dr Friedman. Further, nutritionists are notoriusly dumb. Calories are not anything. Energy is NOT ANYTHING itself. I talk to physics post docs…..

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  4. Val

    Yes, yes, yes, I have the fat gene. My dad had it, his mother had it, and her dad had it. My mother doesn’t have it. Of my two sisters, one has it, the other doesn’t. Of my two children, one has it, the other doesn’t. How do I know? Apart from the obvious appearance, it’s what we like to eat, the amount of it that we eat, and how often we eat. My fat sister and I crave cakes, cookies, and pies. My skinny sister rarely has dessert. My two children are both slim, but I know my daughter will eventually be fat because of the food she craves: breads, cakes, pasta. My son never wants sweets, and eats mostly meat. My husband, who doesn’t have the gene, can eat one piece of cake and be done with it. I can’t stop till the whole thing is gone. Thank you for recognizing us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “just push back from the table a little sooner” or “just count calories” or “just eat healthy food.” Gee…I hadn’t thought of that. Non-fat-gene people don’t realize how HARD it is for me and those like me. Unscientific example: I have a “reading gene,” and my husband doesn’t. I love to read, he hates it. When he HAS to read, he will, but he doesn’t enjoy it, and even though he’s tried, he can’t make a habit of it. What if reading books made you skinny, and if you didn’t read you got fat? He’d be fat, because no matter how many times he’s tried, he just can’t make himself like reading. Probably a bad metaphor, but maybe gets the point across. I used to rail against my fate, but as I’ve gotten older have realized that’s futile; might as well rant against my gray eyes. I’ve resigned myself to the knowledge that I can’t eat like those who don’t have the gene, and I’m OK with that. Just haven’t reached the point where I can be hungry all day every day.

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    • Spectra

      What helped me to avoid inhaling desserts was to simply stop keeping most junk food in the house. I know it’s hard to always stick to, but if you can’t control yourself around things like ice cream (like me), it’s better not to buy them. That way it’s never sitting around to tempt me. I stock up on veggies and fruits and because I’m also always hungry, I fill up on those foods. That’s been the only way I’ve ever found that effectively stops my hunger pangs.

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      • Ted

        Good suggestion Spectra. Substituting low calorie/ zero calorie foods is a good way to deal with the hunger.

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      • Val

        Thank you…but I’ve been there done that, as stated in my post. But the food that I CRAVE, always, is sweet and fatty. I can eat salads, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein, and my stomach will be full, but my brain is screaming for what I crave, and I never feel satisfied. I can take it for a while–sometimes months at a time, but have always given in to the ‘chatter’ in my head in the end. And when I do, I feel blessed relief. Whether this is the fat gene or some other brain mis-fire, it’s real.

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    • Ted

      Wow, it is so interesting how you can trace this through your family tree just like you can eye color, hair color etc. I’m glad you’ve come to the place of self acceptance, just make sure the majority of the food you’re eating is healthy because that is far more important than a number on a scale. 🙂

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  5. Harry Minot

    And, by the way, thanks to Ted for taking the kindness path. It’s so very rare.

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  6. Harry Minot

    I’m a naturally-fat person who is now thin. But in order to maintain a weight that anti-fat bigots regard as “acceptable” my intake is only about 600-800 calories per day. I doubt that those who judge fat people harshly would, themselves, endure that degree of curtailment. They’re certain that they know all about fatness, and they post like trolls. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-968195

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  7. Michelle

    I like that Ted understands that a big difference between people who overeat and those who don’t is hunger. Whenever I hear someone compare themselves to overweight people and say people should just eat less, I always point out that normal-weight people eat when they are hungry and so do overweight people.

    If the average person was asked to eat less than their body needed every day over a long period of time, I doubt they would have any more discipline than someone who’s overweight. It’s hard to go against nature, which is what losing weight is all about! I think the best long term solution is preventing weight gain in the first place, but that doesn’t help those who are already overweight.

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  8. Kristen

    I do think I have a slow metabolism, but I’m not sure that means I have the obesity gene. While I often feel “hungry,” I find that if I look closely, I’m often really tired…or anxious or angry or some other emotion. In other words, it’s not even really physical hunger. Have you ever experienced this type of “hunger”?

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    • Ted

      I’m pretty much the opposite. When I’m stressed out, angry, etc., I don’t feel like eating at all.

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  9. Dan

    I have eaten out of stress like this woman does. I still fell the stress, but I don’t overeat because of it anymore. It also helps to figure just how much one can eat and not gain weight. This can be done by counting calories and figuring what calorie range maintains one’s weight, or leads to weight loss or gain by correlating the calorie range with daily weigh ins. Once I know that, I don’t seem to have much trouble staying within my calorie range. Writing down what I eat makes me think about everything I eat and thus help to limit mindless eating or binging. What Spectra stated about low calorie high volume foods is also important. Joel Fuhrman also spoke about how low nutrient diets cause toxic hunger. Now that my diet is healthier, I don’t seem to have as many cravings as I once did. High fiber helps to control appetite. Exercise also helps, because it increases the amount of calories a person can consume and either lose or maintain weight and thus be more satisfied.

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    • Michael Banashak

      Energy cannot become tissue…….

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  10. Spectra

    I am not sure if I have this gene or not, but I have a huge appetite. The way I curb it is to eat a lot of low calorie/high volume foods. That seems to help a lot with curbing the hunger pangs and keeps me from gaining weight.

    Reply