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Physical Activity Attenuates Weight Gain Of FTO Gene?

sharma-obesity-dna_molecule9Clearly genetic predisposition is one of the overwhelming risk factor for excess weight gain.

This, however, does not mean that genetic risk is not modifiable.

Thus, a paper by Carlos Celis-Morales and colleagues, published in OBESITY, suggests that physical activity may attenuate some of the weight gain attributable to the FTO gene, one of the more common obesity risk alleles.

Their study includes data from 1,280 participants in the European Food4Me trial.

Overall, the FTO (rs9939609) genotype was associated with a higher body weight of about 1 Kg per risk allele, 0.5 Kg/m2 higher BMI, and 1.1 cm greater waist circumference.

While these “effects” were higher among inactive individuals (BMI by 1.06 kg/m2 per allele and waist circumference by 2.7 cm per allele), they were lower in individuals with moderate to high physical activity (BMI by 0.16 kg/me and Waist circumference by 0.5 cm).

Thus, it appears that increased physical activity may attenuate (but not fully prevent) the effect of FTO genotype on BMI and WC.

Exactly how clinically relevant these findings are and whether they would have any effect at all on public health messages or individual counselling, where increased physical activity is likely to be recommended irrespective of any “genetic markers” (or at least should be) is pretty doubtful.

Currently, we have yet to await any practical consequences of genotyping individuals for obesity “risk” alleles.

Edmonton, AB

1 Comment

  1. I have one copy of the s9939609 FTO gene. I have many, many double copies of obesity risk genes. I was obese, morbidly obese, but I’m now just over 4 years without obesity.

    Knowing that I have a genetic reason for the suffering in silence as a 6 year old (binge ate from age 6-46) and the bullying helped me move on and understand the 6 year old me in a family of “normies” That extra ghrelin…. It’s not my fault, but false signal my body gives when I eat sugars, grains, and guar and xhantham gum.

    Also, seeing my diabetes risk (most of the FTO genes are also type 2 risk factors), so I could act “as if” I had type 2 ( I would have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which is diabetes in 2011 had I gone to the doctor. Now I monitor my blood glucose and don’t eat foods (white potatoes, rice, processed carbs) that keep my glucose spiked.

    My health insurance charges me ALOT extra for my weight and metabolic markers if the values are not normal (US). It’s either I manage my genes or I pay dearly with my health and my insurance money. Knowing matters deeply to me both from a weight an money perspective.

    Waiting for more data on the genetics and some custom guidelines so that the regular people can better understand FTO genetics and make changes. I suffered long enough. At least I know I was “good” enough. I’m a Lab Scientist in real life, so I sit and wait for the science, patiently.

    Very valuable for my peace of mind.

    Keep up the great work! Karen P

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