While genes may influence our likelihood of being overweight or obese, a new study has found that a physically active lifestyle can blunt the effects of inherited obesity genes.
Regular exercise can substantially decrease the genetic effect of a major fat mass and obesity associated gene FTO on body weight, the findings showed.
“This provides a message of hope for people with obesity predisposing genes that they can do something about it. Our body weight destiny is not only written in our genetic blueprint,” said one of the researchers David Meyre from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
The researchers looked at data from up to 17,400 people from six ethnic groups who were recruited from 17 countries and followed for more than three years.
They analysed the impact of 14 obesity predisposing genes and found that physical activity can blunt the genetic effect of FTO — the major contributor to common obesity — by up to 75 per cent.
“These promising results encourage us to investigate how additional lifestyle factors, such as diet, stress and sleep patterns may impact the genetic predisposition to obesity,” Meyre noted.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.