Trying to fit into those tight jeans lately but the extra skin will not budge? Thinking “why me” and constant dieting hasn’t worked? Well, it may be the other “genes” that are at fault. A new study at Oxford University and the Medical Research Council researched 77,000 people, looking for areas in the body that distribute fat. Published by Nature Genetics, the study shows there are approximately 13 gene locations in the body playing a part to where fat settles in, giving a larger insight into obesity and playing a future role on medical and dietary advice.
Genes known to be part of cholesterol, insulin and insulin resistance all fall into these particular gene regions. More fat in areas, such as the stomach and the waist, increase risks to diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Storing fat in thighs and hips has shown to protect against certain ailments. Studies have revealed that genetics plays a significant part in hypertension with as much as 40 percent of blood pressure variations attributed to genetic factors. The most significant contribution appears to be from altered body composition, a measure of body fat, skeletal muscle, visceral organs and fluid.The potential to alter fat distribution may be an alternative to drug therapy in the future.
Waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio are convenient ways to measure body composition. The distribution of fat is a major variable when checking body composition. Although the 13 gene locations account for a small part in the ratio between waist and hip, the study leads the path tfor interpretting fat storage.
While genes play a crucial role in distributing fat, some researchers believe that gene expression can be altered over time. According to Dr. Jefferey Bland, Ph. D. and author of “Genetic Nutritioneering”, disease stems from components of lifestyle, nutrition and environment. Most chronic diseases are “polygenic”, meaning bodies hold a multitude of genetic traits. When it comes to cholesterol, blood pressure, cancer and cardiovascular disease, genetics play an impotant role, but other modifiers can express the gene pool and that is where diet and exercise come into the picture.
Dr. Inez Barroso, who established the Metabolic Disease Group at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, claims studies show much promise and will lead the way for further research.
“Genetic Nutritioneering”; Dr. Jeffery Bland, Ph.D.; 1999
“Body Composition and Optimal Health”; Robert H. Lerman, M.D., Ph.D and DeAnn Liska, Ph.D; 2002