Having the so-called “obesity gene” doesn’t affect people’s ability to shed pounds through diet, exercise and weight-loss medications, a new study suggests.
People with the FTO gene respond to these weight-loss strategies as well as those without the gene, British researchers report. The findings suggest that a person’s environment may play a bigger part in weight management than their DNA. The FTO gene is associated with increased body weight, the study authors said.
The researchers analyzed eight trials involving 10,000 people to probe the link between the FTO gene and weight-loss strategies.
When the study began, those who carried the FTO gene were about 2 pounds heavier than those without the gene. There was no association, however, between the FTO gene and participants’ ability to lose weight.
That was true regardless of the study participants’ age and gender, the weight-loss strategy they used, how long they followed it and other variables, the researchers said.
The findings were published Sept. 20 in BMJ.
Obesity is a growing global public health crisis. The study authors, led by John Mathers, a professor of human nutrition at Newcastle University in England, estimated that 2.1 billion adults worldwide are overweight or obese.
The researchers said ongoing efforts to curb the epidemic should focus on helping people find ways to live healthier, such as improving eating habits and getting regular physical activity.
These strategies, the researchers added, would help people achieve long-term weight loss whether they have genes associated with obesity or not.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on obesity.