Obesity: Is It Inherited?

Obesity itself is not inherited. However, there is ample scientific evidence that the predisposition toward obesity is genetically transferred from one generation to another.The likelihood that you will struggle with your weight is almost 45% if one parent is obese but is doubled if both parents are overweight.

Ironically, some theories suggest that the people who may struggle the most with “fat genes” are those whose distant ancestors faced conditions of starvation. The genetic ability to store fat was needed because of irregular food supply. Those “fat genes” may have survived to the present day…the threat of starvation, for most of us, has not remained.

Another explanation of the genetic tendency toward obesity claims that it is diet and lifestyle behaviors that ultimately determine whether or not one accumulates fat. Still, the theory goes on, it is genes that influence how our bodies handle food and low exercise that determines if we gain weight or not. In other words, two people might have similar food intake and exercise patterns but they handle the caloric balance in entirely different way…depending upon their genetic make-up.

So then, while a genetic influence toward obesity seems clear, its exact nature is not. And really, the reason isn’t so important. The bottom line is that there is indeed a connection between your genetic makeup and chronic obesity, mysterious though it may be.

Fortunately, this scenario does not mean, however, that if Mom and Dad are obese you are doomed to the same situation for a lifetime, as are your children. You may have more challenges than your thinner counterparts, but you ultimately are going to gain or lose weight according to the balance between intake and output of caloric energy…just like everybody else.

A major factor in confronting obesity, genetics aside, is that you have probably “inherited” eating habits and lifestyle patterns from your overweight parents! In other words, if you grew up in a household in which available foods were laden with sugar, grease, salt, and calories, and the only family exercise was moving between the table and the couch and the refrigerator…you have “inherited” something far worse than fat genes! You have inherited habits that are probably almost entirely responsible for your weight problem! Did you hear me? Let me say it again. If you grew up in a home where caloric intake and output were consistently out of balance, and exercise was not a regular part of life…this is most likely the cause of your weight problem and not the genes you were born with!

Folks, this is of huge importance. Get rid of the ideas that if your parents are fat, you will be fat and that because you have always been fat, you will always be fat! These are big, fat (pun intended) lies and you must get rid of them.

Meet me next time…we’ll talk about a plan. Until then.