What Role Do Genetics Play in Obesity?

Here’s what you need to know about the link between genetics and weight loss. 

Studies show that losing weight can help alleviate health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Yet millions of people continue to struggle with obesity despite countless attempts to slim down through diet and exercise.

So why is losing weight — and keeping it off — so difficult for many people? Obesity has a variety of physical and psychological causes, including a genetic component. This means that those who are genetically more inclined toward the condition may have a harder time regulating their weight. 

Fortunately, there are effective options available for people who have spent years trying to improve their health. Here’s what you need to know about the connection between genetics and obesity — and how you can lose weight for good. 

Can Your Genes Make You Gain Weight?

Obesity arises from a combination of behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors. Yet the role of heredity is not often discussed. Recent studies have shown that at least 50 different genes are strongly associated with obesity, and 43 percent of people have the condition “in their genes.” This means they are predisposed to gain more weight — and struggle to lose it.

There are a few different ways a person can be genetically predisposed to obesity. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have identified certain instances where obesity is caused by genetic mutations, also known as monogenic obesity. Obesity is also a common characteristic of genetic disorders like Bardet-Biedl syndrome

People with obesity-associated genes feel hungrier more often, feel full less often, and are more inclined to lead a sedentary lifestyle. They also have trouble controlling their eating habits and caloric intake when food is readily available. All of these factors make it more difficult to lose weight initially and keep it off in the long-term. 

Bariatric Surgery Helps Keep the Weight Off

Fortunately, predisposition does not equal destiny. Being predisposed to obesity does not guarantee you will be overweight, and if you are struggling with obesity, there are a variety of steps you can take to get control of your health. For instance, bariatric surgery is designed to give your body the push it needs to tackle these genetic challenges. 

Procedures like gastric sleeve and gastric bypass work by attacking weight gain on two fronts — physical and hormonal. Gastric bypass physically restricts your food intake by partitioning a part of the stomach and making it smaller, which limits calories. Partitioning the stomach also stops the hormones in your brain that tell you you’re still hungry, and halts other metabolic responses that encourage you to overeat. 

In addition, gastric bypass promotes weight loss by changing the way your body digests food. For instance, the procedure alters where in the gastrointestinal tract nutrients are absorbed. This enables the body to more effectively regulate insulin production, leading to significant weight loss and long-lasting type 2 diabetes treatment.

Wondering if weight loss surgery is the right option for you? On average, it can help you lose 60 to 80 percent of your excess weight in a short amount of time. If you’re interested in learning more, schedule an appointment with Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors and chat with one of our bariatric coordinators today!