Genes not decisive when it comes to losing weight, study shows

Stephen Gadd
November 30th, 2018

This article is more than 5 years old.

Obesity is a disease and, as such, requires more than just motivation to treat it

Don’t blame the genes – a lifestyle change on all fronts is a good start if you want to lose weight (photo: Gaulsstin/Flickr)

It has been common knowledge amongst experts that certain children have a higher risk of developing obesity because of genetic factors.

However, Danish researchers have now concluded that children with the ‘obesity gene’ are able to lose weight just as easily as children born without it, reports Videnskab.dk.

READ ALSO: Pay children 22,000 kroner to not get fat, suggests Danish politician

“There is something of a myth amongst the population in general about this area: that if there is a genetic aspect, then there is nothing that can be done,” said Jens-Christian Holm, an associate professor at the institute of clinical medicine at the University of Copenhagen.

All are equal
The researchers took a group of 754 obese or seriously obese children with an average age of 11.6 years. From their genetic profiles, the genetic risk of obesity was calculated based on the 15 gene variants previously thought to increase the risk of obesity. All the children had one or more of these genes.

The new study has revealed that with changes in lifestyle it was possible for the children in the group to lose weight in the same way as those without the genes.

“We have to get away from the idea that it is all about motivation. Obesity is a disease that has to be treated, and if you look at it like that, it is those of us who treat it who bear the responsibility,” said Holm.

A holistic approach
He added that it was all about looking at all the factors that make up the child’s daily life. “It is not just about diet and exercise but, for example, about sugar addiction, interrupted eating patterns, fussiness when it comes to food, and upbringing,” said Holm.

Over a period of six to 24 months, the subjects had to change their dietary patterns, means of transport, level of physical activity, amount of sleep, intake of snacks and sweets, and their social activities.

The treatment was effective in around 75 percent of the children, who achieved significant amounts of weight-loss.


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