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Obesity and Genetics: Energy In and Energy Out

Which Affects Your Weight More: Biological Factors or Your Environment?

Rising rates of obesity seem to be a consequence of modern life, with access to large amounts of palatable, high calorie food and limited need for physical activity.� However, this environment of plenty affects different people in different ways.� Some are able to maintain a reasonable balance between energy input and energy expenditure.� Others have a chronic imbalance that favors energy input, which expresses itself as overweight and obesity.� What accounts for these differences between individuals?

What We Know:

What We Don�t Know:

Biological relatives tend to resemble each other in many ways, including body weight. Individuals with a family history of obesity may be predisposed to gain weight and interventions that prevent obesity are especially important.

Why are biological relatives more similar in body weight?� What genes are associated with this observation?� Are the same genetic associations seen in every family?� How do these genes affect energy metabolism and regulation?

In an environment made constant for food intake and physical activity, individuals respond differently.� Some people store more energy as fat in an environment of excess; others lose less fat in an environment of scarcity.� The different responses are largely due to genetic variation between individuals.

Why are interventions based on diet and exercise more effective for some people than others?� What are the biological differences between these high and low responders?� How do we use these insights to tailor interventions to specific needs?

Next: Does Your Weight Have You Low on Energy?

Adapted from: Obesity and Genetics:� What We Know, What We Don�t Know and What It Means


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