Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews


Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook



King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter





Exercise outweighs 'fat' genes

07 November 2011

By Marianne Neary

Appeared in BioNews 632

When it comes to our weight, there is no need to wallow in the gene pool. Scientists have found that physical activity lessens the link between genes and obesity.

It is well established that bodyweight has a genetic component. With the exception of rare forms of 'monogenic' obesity, which involve one mutated gene, the inherited risk of obesity is shared between many genes, each with a small effect.

Of these, the FTO gene, known as the 'obesity gene', has the greatest effect. Individuals with two copies of the variant carry three kilograms of extra fat and are 1.6 times more likely to be obese, on average. Seventy-five percent of Europeans have at least one copy of the mutated gene and 17 percent have both copies.

Scientists from the Medical Research Council's Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge combined published and unpublished data from 45 studies of adults and nine studies of children and adolescents, a total of nearly 250,000 people. They found that physically active carriers of the variant gene have 27 percent less chance of being obese than those who carry the gene but lead sedentary lifestyles.

'This should convince people who think that their weight is in their genes, and sit back and say they can't do anything about it, that they can do something about it', said the lead author of the study, Dr Ruth Loos, head of the Genetic Aetiology of Obesity Programme at the MRC Epidemiology Unit. 'It's not easy, but you can'.

However the study did not show that being physically active made a difference for children and adolescents carrying the obesity gene. 'That might be just because they are still relatively active, and physical activity at that age does not affect body weight as much as it does in adulthood', Dr Loos explained. 'It may be that later in life, when environment becomes more important, these interactions between genes and environment become more visible as well'.

The researchers set the bar fairly low when they defined physical activity in the study. People were only defined as inactive if they had a sedentary job and engaged in less than one hour a week of exercise, or if their physical activity was in the lowest 20 percent of their study group.

'I think it is important to highlight that you don't have to run a marathon or necessarily join the gym, but walking the dog, cycling to work, taking the stairs... about one hour (of activity) a day, five days a week, will have the effect we saw in our study', said Dr Loos. 'We hope that studies like ours convince people that even when genetically susceptible, a healthy lifestyle will help in the prevention of weight gain'.

The findings are published in the Journal PLoS Medicine.

 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

15 July 2013 - by Emily Hoggar 
Exercise directly affects which genes are expressed or silenced, causing fat cells to function differently, according to a study in PLOS Genetics... [Read More]
14 January 2013 - by Ruth Retassie 
Genes play a role in weight gain resulting from diets high in fat and sugar content, say scientists... [Read More]
26 November 2012 - by Nicola Davis 
A gene linked to obesity may also provide protection from major depression, say scientists... [Read More]
16 April 2012 - by Oliver Timmis 
Two new genetic variants that could increase the risk of childhood obesity have been identified in the largest ever genome-wide study of the disease... [Read More]
26 March 2012 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
Last week's Horizon on BBC2, 'The truth about fat', follows surgeon Gabriel Weston as she looks at the latest research exploring why so many people are clinically obese... [Read More]

19 September 2011 - by Mehmet Fidanboylu 
Scientists in Scotland have discovered a number of genes that are highly expressed in fat tissue and lead to storage of excess fat in mice. The findings, reported in PLoS ONE, could explain why some people carry more weight than others despite sharing similar diets... [Read More]
23 May 2011 - by Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
Scientists say they have found a 'master regulator' gene, KLF14, which controls how active some fat metabolism genes are in your fat cells.... [Read More]
28 February 2011 - by Sujatha Jayakody 
A protein has been linked to a woman's ability to maintain weight loss after dieting, a European study has revealed.... [Read More]
29 November 2010 - by Chris Chatterton 
An international study has uncovered new genes linked to the early onset of puberty and increased likelihood of obesity. The researchers performed a meta-analysis of 32 genome-wide association studies (GWAS) involving over 100,000 women from Europe, the US and Australia.... [Read More]
22 November 2010 - by Marianne Neary 
Scientists have found a direct link between the 'fat mass and obesity associated' (Fto) gene and increased weight... [Read More]

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to Login or Register to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

 


 

- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
RISK ASSESSMENT:
BREAST CANCER, PREDICTION AND SCREENING
FREE public event in central London, 6.30pm on Thursday 8 May 2014 - find out more HERE

DataLabel Supplying Printed Labels To The UK For Over 15 Years

ANNIVERSARY APPEAL
Please donate HERE, so that the Progress Educational Trust can continue throughout 2014 (and beyond) while keeping BioNews FREE for you to read

The Progress Educational Trust was shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards 2011

Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE, and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation