My baby sister was always bigger than me. She takes after my father’s people. The women on his side are thick and full-bodied. Why are they big? One answer is: Good food leads to eating a lot. I always blamed our Mississippi and Louisiana heritage for developing our famous cooking genes! I mean, who invented Southern cuisine? Not Paula Dean! But, more on our cooking genes later.
Actually, many of us inherited fat genes from our ancestors—a genetic disposition for obesity. One in every seven Americans were born with the fat gene! Mexico recently surpassed the US as the “world’s most obese,” according to a United Nations report. But are you destined to be fat if your family is fat? Scientists say No! You can prevent obesity by exercising and eating healthy food.
Furthermore, British scientists recently gained a deeper understanding about a fat gene called “FTO,” that causes our “hunger” hormones to crave certain foods more than others.
“A version of an obesity gene, called FTO, had been linked to a bigger belly, but the reason why was uncertain. A study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed it made fatty foods more tempting and altered levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Obesity experts said drugs targeting ghrelin might reduce weight gain.
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In my family there were several heart attacks and strokes. As we know, obesity is a high risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011, according to the World Health Organization.
Let’s face it. All of us may gain a few pounds now and then. And, we really can’t blame our extra weight on any single factor: genetics, nature, nurture, and environment. In terms of the environment, if you live in New York City, you are more likely to walk and take public transit than folks living in other places where they mostly drive. Obesity is caused by a combination of factors.
So, let’s not wait for pharmaceutical companies to develop new obesity drugs based on our fat genes. Instead, let’s eat better, cook healthy, walk and exercise more and prayer helps too! Does the fat gene run in your family?