For a few, keeping obesity at bay is a breeze, for some it takes a healthy diet and a bit of will power, and for others it may take diet, will power and exercise. For those who are predisposed, due to genetics, that last factor can be crucial, and make all the difference on the scale.
Genetics play a big role in much of our development, but social influences can mold us in ways that better our lives. While you may be born with a fat mass-and-obesity-associated gene (FTO), a new study shows that you can negate the effects as a teenager through an hour a day of exercise.
A fourteen-month study, conducted in 10 European countries, assessed 753 teens with varying genetic backgrounds. Of the group, 37 percent had no FTO mutations, 47 percent had one mutation, and 16 percent had two mutations.
(Each mutation of this gene has been linked to an average jump in weight of 3.3 pounds.) Comparing teens in the study who exercised for at least an hour a day, those with a genetic mutation had a similar body mass index (BMI) to those with no mutation. In fact, they averaged only .17 points higher. For those who did not exercise, the difference was .65 for each gene mutation. The study also found that body fat mass and waist circumference were smaller in those teens with the gene mutation.
“These findings have important public health implications, and indicate that meeting the physical activity recommendations may offset the genetic predisposition to obesity associated with the FTO [gene variant] in adolescents,” said lead researcher Jonatan R. Ruiz, a scientist in physical activity and fitness epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden. The complete report will appear in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
One of the keys to avoiding teen obesity is starting good eating habits at home. Children need some healthy guidance. Adopting an early lifestyle intervention program that includes diet and exercise is the key to preventing the long-term consequences associated with obesity. By helping overweight adolescent children to develop healthy lifestyle habits now, parents can provide a foundation for becoming healthy adults. For helpful ideas on getting started building a healthy groundwork for your children, and to learn more about specific diet program, visit the HealthNews Diet Pages.
By Susan Brady
Susan Brady, the editor of The World Is a Kitchen, is a woman with a passion for food. When not living the life of a typical suburban soccer mom, she spends long hours in the kitchen testing recipes from around the world, and travels to faraway places to learn new cuisines.