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Genetic Obesity vs. Healthy Lifestyle Factors

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Genetic Obesity vs. Healthy Lifestyle Factors

We know that some people are genetically predisposed to risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. These problems do tend to run in families. But so do learned environmental factors like dietary habits and lifestyle choices.

Our genetic makeup affects an extensive range of chemical functions in our body and may affect your weight in various ways including your metabolism, hormones and body fat disposition.

But the precise affect of our genes on weight and weigh gain is difficult to determine. For example, our eating habits and lifestyle factors are largely conditioned by family environment. So even though a child with two overweight parents is estimated to have a 70 percent chance of growing up overweight, this may be due to the family environment rather than genetic influence.

So the question we all ask ourselves is to what extent does a genetic obesity predisposition amount to an inescapable destiny of being overweight?

Researchers looked at three populations traditionally at high risk for diabetes and obesity to identify and track specific risk factors in the non-diabetic family members.

What they found was really encouraging.

Among both black and Hispanic folks living traditionally sedentary lifestyles in big cities, the non-diabetic family members did indeed show many of the same dangerous health markers as their diabetic relatives.

But in the third group - rural Hispanics with a physically active healthy lifestyle--the occurrence of the risk factors in the non-diabetic family members was much reduced, in spite of their high-risk family histories.

The study shows that a genetic obesity predisposition to disease isn't a sentence. Being dealt a bad hand is just more reason for vigilance in making smart healthy lifestyle choices that can keep you healthy.

With that said, people shouldn't assume that they're genetically precluded from ever being thin and healthy. You might not be born with it, but you can discover new behaviors and adjust.

Nowadays, we have all sorts of ways to overcome our genetics. We take medications, we dye our hair, and we even wear colored contact lenses! The exercise plan that got your best friend may not work for you, but something will.

So if you're one of those with the bad hand, don't give up! A dietary and weight management program could be tailored to address your very specific needs in order to get and keep your weight in check. Because getting dealt a bad hand doesn't doom you to losing the game--it just means you need a different strategy for winning it.

If you've seriously tried to drop weight, and your results just don't ever seem to stack up very well next to your pals', it can be very discouraging. But it may be that you're subject to certain resistant genetic factors. Sometimes, simply understanding the cards they're holding can alleviate a lot of the frustration for people by enabling them to set more sensible expectations, and helping them take a fresh start at getting healthy.

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