London : RA recent study shows that people who have obesity in their genes, are as likely to benefit from fat reduction and weight loss programmes as those without.
The findings suggest diet, exercise and drug-based approaches to losing weight can be widely beneficial, even if some people may have a greater risk of piling on the pounds due to their genetics.
In short, the DNA is not a barrier to weight loss, reports The Guardian.
While many genes are believed to affect body weight, a particular version of the so called FTO gene shows one of the strongest associations with fat gain.
Those carrying two copies of the genetic variant, about 16 percent of the population is on average 3kg heavier than those without, and 1.7 times more likely to be obese.
While it is not known exactly how the genetic variant promotes weight gain, it is believed to increase the appeal of high calorie foods and reduce the feeling of fullness after a meal.
But whether it also affects efforts to shed pounds has been a matter of debate.
Lead author of the research John Mathers said, “It has become clear that genetics play a part in the reason why some of us get fatter. The one that has the biggest effect in most people is the FTO gene, so we wondered whether having the [high-risk version of the] FTO gene would affect how well you could lose weight.”
Mathers and her team described how they analyzed eight previously published randomized control trials involving a total of more than 9,500 overweight or obese adults to investigate whether carrying the obesity-linked version of the FTO gene affects the ability to lose weight.
In all of the studies, the participants were tested to discover whether they carried the genetic variant, and whether they had one copy or two, but the results were not disclosed to the participants.
The researchers found that for each copy of the high-risk gene the participants possessed, they were, on average, almost 0.9kg heavier.
The participants took part in a variety of weight loss programmes, including diet based, exercise based and drug-based approaches.
“To our surprise, we discovered that carrying the [high-risk] FTO gene made no difference to your ability to lose weight. So people lost weight at just the same rate if they had the [high-risk version of the] FTO gene as if they didn’t,” said Mathers.
She added, “There was no link between the type of the intervention so whether the people were losing weight through diet or physical activity and the gene. It seemed to work equally well.”
Sex and ethnicity did not affect the rate of weight loss, although they noted there was a lack of participants of Asian descent.
The studies did not show whether carrying the obesity linked version of the FTO gene affects whether weight loss was sustained, as the longest follow up time was three years.