Exercise can help prevent effects of genes related to obesity

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Researchers think they may have worked out why some inactive people do not put on weight, when others do.
The team from the University of North Carolina and the University of Copenhagen say it is all to do with a specific gene called FTO which is commonly linked to obesity, a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
In a study of more than 200,400 adults, they found those who were found to be susceptible to weight gain and had the FTO gene were able to counteract the effects by exercising.
About 2.5 million genetic variants were screened for in the participants who took part in the trial. BMI, waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference were all measured and compared against those who exercised and those who did not.
The findings showed that those with FTO who were active reduced the effects of weight gain, associated with the gene, by about 30 per cent.
Speaking to ABC News, Dr Goutham Rao, chairman of Family Medicine and Community Health at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, said: “Despite that sort of bad luck of having a genetic predisposition to obesity if you are physically active, you’re not going to reduce risk of obesity entirely but you reduce it significantly. If you weren’t doing your best you would weigh a lot more and be much less healthy.”
During their work, the researchers also found 11 other genetic variants which are linked to weight gain. They believe these will be helpful in forthcoming obesity research.
Lead study author Mariaelisa Graff, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said: “In future studies, accounting for physical activity and other important lifestyle factors could boost the search for new obesity genes.
“A weakness of our study was that the participants self-reported their physical activity habits rather than being surveyed objectively. To identify more genes whose effects are either dampened or amplified by physical activity, we need to carry out larger studies with more accurate measurement of physical levels.
“To identify more genes whose effects are either dampened or amplified by physical activity, we need to carry out larger studies with more accurate measurement of physical levels.”
The study was published in the journal PLOS.