A few days ago, I met a woman whose young child has been diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

And while I am no expert on Prader-Willi, I have a general idea of the associated symptoms.

These include:

  • low levels of testosterone
  • sleep disorders
  • strabismus (mis-aligned eyes)
  • scoliosis
  • delayed puberty
  • weak muscles
  • extreme flexibility
  • learning disabilities
  • various
  • and an insatiable desire to eat which leads to compulsive overeating, morbid obesity and an increased risk of diabetes and various other obesity related conditions

The cause of PWS is genetic.

Although the exact genes responsible for Prader-Willi syndrome haven’t been identified, the problem is known to lie in a particular region of chromosome 15.

This defect in chromosome 15 leads to a malfunctioning hypothalamus.

This results in a flaw in the hypothalamus part of their brain, which normally registers feelings of hunger and satiety. The number of oxytocin neurones–the putative satiety neurones–in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus is markedly decreased in Prader-Willi syndrome. This is presumed to be the basis of the insatiable hunger and obesity of patients with the syndrome.


This means that people with this flaw never feel full; they have a continuous urge to eat that they cannot learn to control. To compound this problem, people with PWS need less food than their peers without the syndrome because their bodies have less muscle and tend to burn fewer calories.

Doesn’t sound very nice, does it?

So, maybe that explains my irritation the very next day when I had a chat with someone who told me that the reason they are fat is their genetics. His mom is overweight and so is his father.

Never mind that he was drinking a Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappucino and munching on some sort of scone while we had this brief conversation.


So, like the shit-disturber I am (pardon my French), I asked him if he suffered from Prader-Willi or some other form of genetic disorder.

[blank stare]

The moral of the story….the next time you are feeling sorry for your obviously fat genetics, think about the little guy in that Prader-Willi video….feeling hungry all the time.

If you’re overweight, odds are it ain’t your genetics.

And if it ain’t your genetics, you can do something about it.


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