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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > October 2019 > FIND THE DIET that’s right for YOU

FIND THE DIET that’s right for YOU

There’s a new diet in town… And this time, it’s personal. A ground-breaking study of identical twins is confirming what we’ve long suspected: our weight is not all down to our genes. Other environmental factors are involved and, interestingly, so is the way our bodies react to certain foods. Jo Waters digests the research that could tailormake our diets in the not-too-distant future, while nutrition editor Amanda Ursell looks at practical ways to find your ideal diet

WE ALL HAVE A FRIEND WHO SEEMS TO EAT EXACTLY WHAT SHE LIKES and stay stick-thin and another who only has to look at a muffin and she’s gained a pound. Sometimes these differences are noticeable even within the same families.

So are some people just unlucky/lucky with their genes? Are there other modifiable factors that can determine whether or not you’ll struggle with your weight? Until now, scientific evidence has been lacking on why the same foods can have different effects on individuals, or on what might cause these different responses.

There is an enormous piece of the nutrition puzzle missing, says Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, in his book The Diet Myth: the Real Science Behind What We Eat (Orion, £8.99). ‘Why can one person eat a certain meal regularly and gain weight while another ingests the same food and yet loses pounds?’ he asks.

Beyond your genes

‘Some of these differences are down to genes, which influence both our appetite and our eventual weight,’ he adds. ‘But even identical twins can have very different waistlines, despite having identical genes. We’re studying these special pairs in great detail to find out why. And genetic factors alone don’t explain the massive changes that have occurred in the population over the past two generations. In the UK in 1980, only 7% of men and women were obese. Now the figure is 24%. Genes traditionally need a minimum of 100 generations to adapt by natural selection. Clearly other factors are involved,’ he says.

A big part of the problem is that as a nation we are consuming far more calories than we need – and this leads to weight gain.

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About Healthy Food Guide

What’s the best way to lose weight? Scientists say it’s personal – so Healthy Food Guide help you find the diet that works for you. The experts offer post-cancer confidence boosters, and our dietitian picks her all-time favourite autumn superfoods. Plus all the recipes you need, from failsafe midweek suppers to weekend fakeaways