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fat genes?

is there any truth to this idea that some people are just destined to carry more weight, unless they starve themselves? i'd like to hear what people have to say about this...thanks!

Fri. Jun 23, 11:43am

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I don't believe there is a fat gene. However, many people out there are doing research on nutrigenomics- how a person's genes and nutrition relate. And I do believe whole heartedly, that many of the foods we assume are healthy, or "good in moderation" aren't good for everyone. In turn, those who eat "healthy" may continue to maintain or gain wieght. (Recent thread about people who are "doing everything right" but not losing wieght- could be what's "right" for everyone else, ISN'T right for them.)

Friday, June 23, 2006, 12:50 PM

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Thrifty genes

"Thrifty" genes sure do exist, and are heavily selected FOR -- we are living in a bubble of prosperity, remember that for most of human history starvation was common. Link goes to PubMed abstract, but the key sentence is: "With the exception of the rare mutations that cause severe morbid obesity, it seems that numerous genes, each with modest effect, contribute to an individual's predisposition toward the more common forms of obesity."

If you search PubMed for "thrifty" gene papers, BTW, you will find two interesting things:
1) the first paper brought up denies the existence of any such thing. Since this paper also denies the existence of starvation in prehistoric time, flying in the face of much archeological evidence, it seems like a total crock to me.
2) Epigenetic factors are known to play a large role in obesity. Specifically, poor maternal nutrition can lead to all kinds of health problems.


Friday, June 23, 2006, 1:09 PM

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I think there is definitely a genetic connection that some people will be heavier than others. However, I also think that this runs the risk of being an easy excuse the way "oh I have a slow metabolism" or "I'm just big boned" can be. Yes, some peoples' metabolisms are higher and people have different body structures, and some people's genes cause their bodies to deal with food differently. But I'd hate for the new excuse for not putting down the potato chips and getting off the couch to be "oh, it's my darn genes always working against me."

Friday, June 23, 2006, 1:46 PM

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There is a growing body of research that indicates that if the mother is overweight while she is pregnant, this affects the brain of the fetus so that when the baby is grown, it is less able to feel satieted after a meal.

Saturday, June 24, 2006, 12:50 AM

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I believe that one can be genetically dispositioned to be overweight (though this is an opinion; I haven't done much research). But, as with all nature vs. nurture theories, everyone needs to remember that habits are built early, and if your parents have bad habits, you're likely to pick them up. And the results will be similar. If your parents eat unhealthily and are overweight, odds are, you will eat unhealthily and be overweight - a trait developed while living at home. Maybe you are predispositioned to be overweight, but you probabloy have habits that people who grew up in households with skinny parents never developed.

My family actually makes fun of my new eating habits, and says that I must not really be a "Jones" because I don't overeat all the time. And, in between, they tell me how jealous they are that I've gotten so little. They're not obese people, just average overweight. (off topic - what a sad expression - average overweight)...

Monday, June 26, 2006, 4:18 PM

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To the Sat. 6/24 12:50 poster. Can you give a link to this supposedly growing body of research? I for one would love to read that one. That is such a crock.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006, 1:43 AM

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I'm not that poster but I've seen this on TV on the Discovery chanel. Remember that for most of human experience on this earth, famine was the norm. Those who could store a little fat could survive better. OUr present abundance is not the norm for humanity.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006, 5:40 AM

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I believe there is a genetic predisposition for some people to carry excess weight. My relatives (particularly the women) are prone to apple shaped bodies. I basically live on the induction phase of the South Beach diet, work out 60 minutes most days a week with a mix of serious cardio and weight trraining, bench press 100 lbs. My bmi is 29-30. I am frustrated by people who say weight managment is calories in vs calories out. When I consume just 3 servings of whole grain carbohydratres a day, I will put on weight. As I get older, it is even more difficult to manage. I am a nurse, working on a masters in health science. I look at the research. I am not fooling myself by living on fast food and complaining I can't lose weight. I know my efforts and am convicned there is a genetic reason for the weight. I recently attended a family reunion and was struck by how overweight my cousins are, far more than I am. There has to be a genetic reason, at least in my family.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006, 8:52 AM

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to the above poster: apple shapes may be part of family genetics, but it's very much a matter of personal anatomy. Basically, dif people have different distances from rib to hip. Some may have 8" between rib and hip, some may only have 2". Women with longer torsos tend to gain weight as pears, women with shorter torsos as apples.

(For any others out there reading, also realise that if you only have 2" between your rib and hip, it is unlikely you will ever have a really really narrow waist- there's simply no way as your organs have much less space than on a person with 8" between rib and hip. You have to understand what your body actually can be when you set your goals)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006, 10:52 AM

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It's not a crock, and learn to do your own research

To the Tuesday 1:43 am poster: You may be unaware of this, but PubMed abstracts are available to anyone with a computer. If you really want to KNOW, as opposed to blast other posters, you can search that data base yourself. Or you can use Google Scholar, which works pretty well. But here's one of the references you want -- it's kind of hard to deny, since it's been researched since the 1970's: if you are v. overweight, overeating, and pregnant, you are risking the health of your child. Sorry.

Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006 Apr 25;27(1-2):70-72 [Epub ahead of print] Related Articles, Links

Developmental programming of the hypothalamus: a matter of insulin. A comment on: Horvath, T. L., Bruning, J. C.: Developmental programming of the hypothalamus: a matter of fat. Nat. Med. (2006) 12: 52-53.

Plagemann A, Davidowa H, Harder T, Dudenhausen JW.

Institute for Environmental Medicine and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Freiburg, Germany.

During recent years obesity and diabetes mellitus have become an epidemic problem in the western world. It also has become more and more obvious that pre- and perinatal programming of obesity disposition, especially induced by maternal diabetes during pregnancy and/or perinatal overfeeding, may decisively contribute to this fatal development which, however, simultaneously implies the chance of perinatal primary prevention for the whole individual life-time. This approach was originally inaugurated by Gunter Dorner in the early 1970's and up to now substantiated by a large body of experimental, clinical, and epidemiological work (for review see 1-3). Key is that hyperinsulinism during critical periods of pre- and neonatal development, induced by materno-fetal hyperglycemia and/or pre- and neonatal overfeeding, may lead to a lasting malprogramming of neuroendocrine systems, particularly in the hypothalamus, which are critically involved in the regulation of body weight, food intake, and metabolism, thereby predisposing to long-term increased risk of obesity and diabetes (1-4).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006, 6:28 PM

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to the 6:28 poster:
Is there something someone can do, if they experienced hyperinsulism during the neonatal period? I'm asking because my husband, who is about 6' tall and weighs about 330 lbs., blames his weight on the fact that he was a premie (50 years ago) and was fed a diet exceedingly high in fats during the first 6 months of his life.
I'm willing to accept that he may have extra hurdles to jump through to lose weight, but I also know he eats enormous portions and NEVER exercises. This clearly contributes to his overweight now.
Any feedback much appreciated. TIA.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006, 10:51 AM

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6:28 poster here... to 10:51 poster, I don't know. That's a question probably best answered by a medical specialist in neuroendocrinology. Not as many preemies survived 50 years ago as do now, and the answer could be highly hypothetical... OTOH, maybe your hubby could be in a study!

Good luck and success to both of you!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006, 3:24 PM

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10:51 poster here... to the 6:28 poster.
Thanks for the answer. Maybe i'll look for a study for my husband; that might be very interesting.
Any other feedback or information happily accepted.

Thursday, June 29, 2006, 3:51 PM

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