Simplifying the battle against obesity: the role of genetics and exercise

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A study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, shared in the JAMA Network Open, brings to light an interesting fact about obesity and how it relates to our genes and exercise habits.

It turns out that people who are more likely to become obese because of their genes need to exercise more than those who have a lower genetic risk.

This study taps into data from the National Institutes of Health’s “All of Us” Research Program, examining how our genetic makeup influences the need for physical activity to prevent obesity.

Douglas Ruderfer, a key researcher in this study, pointed out that our current guidelines for physical activity don’t consider how different we all are, especially when it comes to our genetics.

His team discovered that the more prone you are to obesity because of your genes, the more you need to move. Specifically, you need to take more steps every day.

The idea that we can adjust our activity level to offset our genetic risk for obesity is quite empowering. Besides genetics, other factors like diet and the environment also play crucial roles in our health.

The study included over 3,000 middle-aged people who didn’t have obesity at the start and tracked their steps with a Fitbit. They found that those with the highest genetic risk for obesity saw a significant increase in obesity incidence over the years, compared to those with the lowest risk.

For someone with a high genetic risk (in the 75th percentile), walking an extra 2,280 steps a day (totaling 11,020 steps) could lower their obesity risk to match someone with an average genetic risk.

And the more someone weighed to begin with, the more extra steps they’d need to take to balance out their risk of becoming obese.

Evan Brittain, who led the research, highlights how groundbreaking it is to finally have a specific number of steps that can help reduce obesity risk based on genetic predisposition.

This approach could revolutionize how we think about personalized health recommendations, potentially using genetic data from patients to tailor advice on physical activity.

The study’s findings are promising but need to be tested further across different and more diverse groups to see if they hold true on a larger scale. Also, the researchers are curious about whether knowing one’s genetic risk can motivate them to change their behavior.

This study is a step towards breaking down the “one-size-fits-all” approach in physical activity guidelines, suggesting that a more personalized strategy could be more effective, especially for those at higher genetic risk of obesity.

The message here is hopeful: your genes don’t have to dictate your health, and by being more active, you can fight the odds of becoming obese.

If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight .

For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies about a simple path to weight loss, and results showing a non-invasive treatment for obesity and diabetes.

The research findings can be found in JAMA Network Open.

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