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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree January 2018 > The obesity genes

The obesity genes

Dr Nicola Davies, health psychologist and author of I Can Beat Obesity! Finding the Motivation, Confidence and Skills to Lose Weight and Avoid Relapse, explores the role of genetics in being overweight and obese

INHERITED TRAITS

A growing child may hear parents declaring proudly, ‘He takes after his grandfather height wise’. Parents of a chubby child, however, will not comment on an inherited tendency to being overweight, instead choosing to concentrate on changing eating habits and exercise patterns in an effort to control excess weight. So, is obesity really linked to the genes or is it linked to environmental factors – or is it a bit of both?

Importance of understanding the role of genetics in obesity

Genetic factors help to explain why people have different bodily responses when faced with the same food or when consuming the same amount of food. For example, people can have heritable sensitivities to hunger and external food cues. The FTO gene (also known as the ‘fat gene’), for example, has been linked to differing levels of energy expenditure and ability to control eating behaviour, both of which are associated with the development of obesity. It is important to explore these genetic factors due to the health implications of being overweight or obese.

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About Family Tree

Make the most of hibernation indoors this winter with our January 2018 issue. It’s full of family history tips and stories, plus a masterclass guide to essential church records. In addition, there are this issue’s Family Tree Academy challenges for our genealogy learn-along. If you have a new smart phone or device, you’ll love our new series with technology tips for family historians (don’t miss a trick that the web or your mobile can help you out with!). There is so much to enjoy, there’s no time to waste! Wishing you a very Happy New Year of family history to come.