In today’s totally unfair news: Whether or not that basket of boardwalk fries will make you fat is totally out of your hands, and up to your genes. According to Health, a recent study found that fried food has twice the effect on body size for people at high genetic risk of obesity compared with those at low risk.
The study, published in the journal BMJ, analyzed over 37,000 men and women from three U.S. health trials. Here's how it worked: For each individual in the study, researchers looked at a panel of 32 known genetic variants associated with obesity. They then tracked fried food consumption using questionnaires and looked at each person's BMI. They found that those who were already at high genetic risk for obesity, and ate fried food upwards of four times a week, had a significantly higher BMI than those with high genetic risk for obesity who ate fried food less than once a week. On the flipside, they found that the BMI for those with a low genetic risk for obesity barely differed, regardless of how much fried food they ate.
Meaning: If you are already at high genetic risk for obesity, indulging in fried food can easily put you over the edge. However, if you are at low genetic risk for obesity, you can have at those fries without packing on the pounds. Totally unfair, right?
There is good news, though: Now that we know genetics are tied to the effects of fried foods, genetic testing could easily be used to help reveal who is at higher genetic risk for obesity so that they can take the proper preventative measures.
As Claude Bouchard, chairman of genetics and nutrition at the Human Genomics Laboratory of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, told Health, "It's not a sentence for obesity, but rather an increased susceptibility to obesity. Your peers can afford to have an extra serving or be sedentary and they will be OK, but for you it won't happen. That's important to know."
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