• You’re 20 pounds overweight.
  • You have been trying to lose that weight for years and years.
  • Not matter how hard you try, the weight just won’t come off.

Sound familiar?

Maybe it’s your genetics?

In the last few years, study after study has have linked genetics to obesity. Here are just a few of the studies:

And here’s the latest scientific gem:

In this latest study, scientists from the University of maryland looked at the common FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene variants that have recently been associated with high Body Mass Index (BMI) and obesity in several large studies.

Specifically, they investigated the effect that physical activity can have in those people born with the FTO gene variant.

Can Exercise Trump Genetics?

A little background on the FTO gene variant:

  • Carriers of this gene variant are more likely to be obese.
  • In fact, people with two copies of the FTO variant are on average 7 pounds heavier and 67 percent more likely to be obese than those who don’t have it.
  • Carriers also have higher rates of type 2 Diabetes.
  • The International HapMap Project estimates the number of FTO carriers as:
  • 45% in the West/Central Europeans population
  • 52% in Yorubans (West African natives) population
  • 14% in Chinese/Japanese population

The Study

Researchers looked at a population of Old Order Amish in conducting this study.

The Amish were used because:

  • Their day to day activities provide a high level of physical exercise. This is due to the fact that the Amish don’t drive cars or have electricity in their homes, eschewing many of the trappings of modern life. Most Amish men are farmers or work in physically demanding occupations such as blacksmithing or carpentry. Women are homemakers who work without the aid of modern appliances and often care for many children.

The researchers tested the particpants for:

  • The presence of the FTO gene variant
  • Their BMI scores
  • Their levels of physical activity

The participants’ activity levels were measured with the aid of accelerometers, worn on the participants’ hips.

The researchers gathered measurements of their physical activity over seven consecutive days.

Participants were classified as “high activity” or “low activity” depending upon their accelerometer readings.

The “high activity” group burned 900 more calories per day than the “low activity” group. This total translates into 3 to 4 hours of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking, housecleaning or gardening.

The Results

The researchers found that the Amish people with the FTO variant were no more likely to be overweight than their non-FTO carrying cousins….as long as they got their three to four hours of moderate activity every day.


Genetics isn’t Destiny

Being born with a FTO gene variant does not guarantee a lifetime of obesity and diabetes. Your health and physical appearance is up to you and the lifestyle choices you make.