Are your genes making you FAT?
by Elena Ramos, B.S Exercise Science, NASM
The Surgeon General has stated that today’s epidemic of overweight and obese people is threatening our historic progress. Two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. The fact that our country is facing an obesity epidemic isn’t anything new. Warning signs about health complications caused by obesity have been announced by our media and health-care professionals through diet and exercise articles, books, educational television programs, etc. All of which have been attempts to correct this national crisis, yet our problem continues to grow.
Genetic variations account for 65% of the differences in body composition amongst individuals, but genetic factors don’t explain why as a society we’ve become so overweight/obese. It has more to do with our environmental surroundings, and poor lifestyle habits, that we have created in our culture.
One of the advantages of technology is that it has enabled us to get daily activities done more quickly. Washing machines, cars, computers, elevators, just to name a few. All of which have greatly diminished physical activity from our day-to-day lives. This has direct correlation to our obesity problem. Our children are being born into this technology revolution, which is why childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate. Obesity and being overweight can be prevented and managed amongst children, teens, adults, and the elderly. It is through physical activity, changing bad lifestyle habits to good lifestyle habits, eating healthier foods and being surrounded by a supportive environment, that weight loss changes can occur.
How big of a role do your genes actually play?
Genetics (genes) does create a predisposition toward a certain body type and weight status. If a child has two obese parents, there is a 80% chance that child will be obese. If a child is born with one obese parent, then there is a 40% chance that child will be obese. Although your genes influence is pretty apparent in body composition and weight, environmental influences have an even greater affect.
What can be done?
If overweight/ obese parents teach their children to eat right and exercise, these factors will over ride the genetic factors in determining if the child will be overweight or not. The child with the genetic predisposition to be obese will have to work harder than a child who doesn’t have that genetic attribute. Therefore, the astronomical rise of obesity amongst all populations, in America, cannot be accounted for by genetic influence or interference.
Best foods for fat loss
Lean proteins: chicken breast, turkey breast, white fish, egg whites
Fibrous carbs: broccoli, spinach, asparagus, green beans, kale, collard greens, brussel sprouts, zucchini
Physical activity recommendations for the obese/overweight
Physical activities should include aerobic activity, muscle strengthening/building activities, and activities to increase balance and flexibility. As stated by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderately-intense exercise, or 30 minutes for 5 days each week, and children/teenagers should engage in at least one hour of activity each day.
It is of my opinion that the solution to the obesity problem is be taken upon each individual. Healthy living is a lifestyle choice that can not be forced on anyone. By targeting our young generation, we might still stand a chance in making healthy progression. Our future generations are dependent on this change, or we could quite possibly end up looking like the people in the Wall-E movie!!