FINALLY, You Can Blame Your Genes for Your Weight

OK.  You can now blame your genes.

Many of us fighting weight battles have used the old "It's genetic" excuse to explain our inability to lose weight.  But a story today by Gina Kolata in The New York Times may prove there's some truth to that, after all.

She offers tantalizing evidence, as demonstrated in mice, why some people can eat a lot, and never gain weight, while others (I'm giving no names) look at a piece of cheesecake and pile on the pounds.

Kolata reports that this new information may offer clues to, "Why do . . .people gain different amounts of weight while overeating by the same amount?"

Scientists have long known that our genes have a lot to do with our ability to stay thin, or fat. Or, as Kolata puts it, "They knew body weight was strongly inherited."  They've now found evidence that many — if not hundreds — of genes may be involved to make people hungry, and so, overeat.

These genes determine how quickly calories are burned.  The quicker you burn calories, the thinner you are.  The slower you burn calories, well.  We know the answer to that.

Studying these genes in mice, researchers now hope to find an answer why some people burn calories quickly and efficiently, and others don't.  I've long been treated for an under-active thyroid (which means I burn calories very slowly) and have to be much more careful than my husband when eating.

He can put away a pound bag of M&Ms and not gain an ounce, while I have a handful and must watch everything else I stick in my mouth the rest of the day.  I do a fair amount of exercise, and even though that's supposed to spike your metabolism, I still have to stay at 1,000 calories a day, to not gain weight.

Now, I may finally be getting my due. "The history of obesity for many many years has been one of blaming people for lack of self control,” Kolata quotes Dr. Joseph Majzoub, chief of endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the new paper. “If some of it is due to a slow metabolism, that would completely change the perspectives of parents and patients. It really would change the way we think of the disease.”
Majzoub's team actually found the gene that acts in the brain to control weight. They figure that if they can play with this, they may be able to alter people's metabolism, and how they burn calories.

Although the common thinking is that a calorie is a calorie, research has shown that people's bodies may react differently to the same amount of food.  "There are genetic controls not just of how much people want to eat but also how much of what they eat turns into fat or is burned off and not used by the body," Kolata points out. "Although the common mantra is that a calorie is a calorie and 3,500 extra calories eaten equals a pound of fat on the body," that is not what happens in real life, scientists found.      

So don't blame yourself the next time you eat a piece of carrot cake and it takes a week to burn off the pound you just gained.   Be mindful that your genes may be helping, or hurting, you, it's not a lack of self-control, and the best part?  This research may soon be able to remedy that.


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