Friday, April 14, 2006

"Genes Predict Body Shape and Fatness"

Click here for article.

Disturbing article. I'd like to see the evidence that they can tell how fat you are by analyzing your genes. I don't buy it.

We all have a set number of fat cells that doesn't change once you are through puberty unless you lipposuction the cells out of there. What does change is the size of those fat cells. If you eat more calories than you burn then your body will store the extra calories in the form of fat in those cells. As those cells expand like water balloons so does your waistline.

I can believe that they could tell what shape you might be based on your genes, since your genes hold the blueprint for how fat cells are distributed across your body. A lot of mine are in my gut and face. Some people have them in their hips or back of their legs. Women carry more fat in their breasts than men.

But, how fat we are is determined by one thing - how many excess calories we take in. I have a hard time believing that's a function of our genes. Admittedly certain aspects of our eating habits might be genetically determined. For example, people with a slow responding "fullness sensor" may be more likely to eat more than someone with fast sensor. And, some people may be genetically predisposed to prefer certain types of food. But, for the large majority of us, I believe that our fat destiny lies squarely within our own control.

Obesity may be handed down from generation to generation, but I'm betting that learned behavior is a bigger factor than genes.

For more on how fat cells work, click here:

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