How Strong Is the Relationship Between Genes and Obesity?

How Strong Is the Relationship Between Genes and Obesity?

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During their consultations for bariatric surgery in Maryland, many of our patients say some version of the same thing: “No matter how hard I try, I can’t lose weight. It feels like I’m just meant to be obese.” While lifestyle factors play a major part in our weight, the truth is that genes play a significant role in whether or not we hold onto excess weight. But how strong is this relationship between weight and DNA, and can it be overcome?

The Heritability of Obesity

With pretty much all things related to behavior and health, there is a debate about nature vs. nurture. You may be just one of many obese individuals in your family, and this might lead you to assert that your obesity is just coded into your DNA. “My whole family is this way; it’s just in my genes.” But many of our behaviors are learned from those we live with, and theirs were learned from those they grew up with. This includes behaviors related to food and exercise. So how much of your obesity is a lifestyle, and how much is genetic? The heritability of obesity falls somewhere between 40% and 70%. This means that obesity is hereditary, and for some, this link is so strong that even their best efforts cannot fully overcome it.

Is There a “Fat Gene?”

Knowing that being overweight is in part genetic, you might wonder if there is a specific gene that is causing you to hold on to excess weight or develop habits that feed into weight gain. As with most things genetics, it is much more complex than that. There are over 244 genes that have been linked to obesity in clinical studies. These include those that control metabolism and appetite as well as ones that impact mental health.

Can You Overcome a Genetic Predisposition?

It isn’t easy, and at Maryland Bariatrics, we acknowledge that. This is why weight loss surgery is so important. In cases where someone’s DNA is coded to encourage overeating, holding onto excess fat, and slow metabolism, bariatric surgery can be the key to overcoming the “programming” and losing weight. Of course, you still need to change your lifestyle. That is why our bariatric surgery team recommends that patients lead healthy lifestyles to ensure they get the best outcome possible from their procedure. Contact us today for more information about scheduling your consultation with one of our experts or click here to learn more about your surgical options! Click to see which weight loss surgery is best for you.

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