mice and the fat geneIf you’re struggling with obesity, then you can take heart – the reason you’re finding weight loss so difficult could be down to genetics.  After more than five years of research, scientists have identified a genetic mutation which could relate to weight gain.

In 2007, scientists found that people with two copies of a “fat” version of a specific gene were at a higher risk of obesity than those without the gene, and tended to weigh around 3KG more than people without the gene.

Earlier this month, that research was confirmed after testing on mice.  The scientists believe that mice with a particular genetic mutation were less receptive to the body’s “Stop eating” message, and were more likely to continue eating even after they should have been satiated.

Weight Loss Is Still Possible

The good news is that while the “fat” gene makes weight gain more likely, it does not actually prevent weight loss.  It is still possible to lose weight if you eat a calorie controlled diet, and exercise regularly.

The genetic mutation prevents the brain from picking up the message produced when hormones such as insulin and leptin are secreted.  This means that it’s harder to tell when you are satiated, and this makes it harder to limit your eating.

If you have the mutation, it will be harder to stick to a calorie controlled diet, but there are still things that you can do.  Eating filling, but not calorie dense foods such as oatmeal, lean white meats, and vegetables may help you to reduce the number of calories you consume per day.  In addition drinking water instead of fruit juice or soda may help with weight loss.

Some people find that exercising more, whilst keeping their daily calorie intake the same, is the best way for them to lose weight.  This is something that varies from person to person.  If you do decide to exercise to lose weight, try to resist the urge to treat yourself to a big meal after a workout – you may feel like you’ve earned the extra calories, but you can’t out-train a bad diet.  That hour of hard work in the gym does not equate to a pizza worth of calories!

Future Cures for Obesity

The discovery of the “fat gene” could open the door for medication to help people control their appetites.  This could be a boon for people that have struggled with weight loss all their lives.

Being overweight is dangerous for many reasons.  People who are obese are more likely to suffer from heart disease and diabetes.  For the huge number of people that have been struggling to control their weight, the discovery that their difficulty may be down to their genes, rather than a laziness or a lack of willpower, is good news.

However, scientists caution that the study focused entirely on mice, and the mutation is “very rare” in humans.  While there are cases of the mutation in people, it would be incorrect for everyone struggling with their weight to immediately throw up their hands and blame their genes.

Wayne Barker writes for www.slimming.com experts in weight loss and healthy living resources and products.

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