Genetics is known to influence food cravings, with carriers of a particular version of the FTO gene seemingly biologically wired to eat more and feel hungrier sooner. In ancient humanity, where food was scarce, this is likely to have been a straightforward survival mechanism, but it becomes problematic in a modern world with easy access to high-energy foods. Your FitnessGenes result will tell you whether you have any copies of the FTO gene linked to increased appetite.
The relationship between the genetic variations in FTO, diet, and body composition is very complex. There is much research still to be done. We are contributing original knowledge to this area through our collaboration with Loughborough University and University College London (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/news-events/news/2015/march/obesity-gene.html) . Thank you to everyone who has helped further this research by completing our survey!
Losing those few extra pounds can often be a struggle, and some of us certainly find it harder to shift the fat than others. An increase in the levels of obesity worldwide over the past 20 years clearly puts the blame on the rise in access to cheap, easy calories such as those found in convenience and fast food.
However, we are increasingly beginning to understand that genetics also has a role to play in why some of us find it harder to lose weight than others. One classic study compared the weight of over 500 adopted children with their biological parents, and also their adoptive parents. If family environment was more important to the children’s weight then you might expect to find a closer match to the adoptive parents. What the researchers actually found was that the children’s weight was much more similar to the weight of their biological parents.
We now know that a number of different genes play an important role in determining how much you weigh throughout your life. The involvement of genetic factors in the development of obesity is estimated to be between 64—84%. One of the strongest associations is with a gene known as FTO.