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Want To Lose Weight? Diet And Exercise Not Helping? Blame It On Your Genes

Obese woman

Diet and exercise may not be enough to help some obese people lose weight, according to researchers. There may be a genetic issue at play.
(Photo : Flickr / Tony Alter)

Diet and exercise may not be enough to help some people lose weight, as genes may play a role, according to new research. The genetic aspect may also explain why some people have trouble keeping weight off once they’re done dieting.


Some medical professionals believe obesity should be classified as a chronic disease, rather than simply the result of inactivity and overeating. This idea suggests obese individuals be treated in much the same way as those suffering from alcoholism and other addictions. A new study supports the belief.

“Although lifestyle modifications may result in lasting weight loss in individuals who are overweight, in those with chronic obesity, body weight seems to become biologically ‘stamped in’ and defended,” Christopher Ochner from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said.

Researchers believe the human body attempts to hold onto extra weight in order to survive through winter. When a dieter starts to shed pounds, their bodies produce signals that trigger hunger and reduce physical activity. This may be the reason that fewer than one percent of all obese individuals are able to reach and maintain a healthy weight without surgery, say researchers.

Low calorie diets may actually accentuate and compound the problem, prompting the human body to call out for more calories, reducing the efficacy of attempts at weight loss.

“Therefore, the current advice to eat less and exercise more may be no more effective for most individuals with obesity than a recommendation to avoid sharp objects for someone bleeding profusely,” researchers wrote in a report.

Around 79 million adults and 13 million children in the United States are considered obese. The condition can lead to a myriad of health problems throughout life, including diabetes and heart issues.

Researchers stress that physicians should focus on educating patients on the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. They also advise physicians to be more open to the idea of surgery and other more radical treatments.

“Few individuals ever truly recover from obesity; rather they suffer from “obesity in remission. They are biologically very different from individuals of the same age, sex, and body weight who never had obesity,” Ochner said.

Modern society could also play a role in helping obese people striving to achieve a healthy weight, as society behavior encourages the consumption of high caloric foods and a sedentary lifestyle.

Yet not everyone is convinced that genetics plays such a strong role in obesity. Some believe it’s a matter of a person’s true willpower and determination to overcome obesity.

The latest examination of the role of genetics in obesity was published in The Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology 

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