A Healthy Diet is More Important than Genetics in Managing our Weight


The human genome project was started in 1993 and completed in 2003. In the years leading up to and surround the human genome project we were told about all the great things that would come from this investment. Things like drugs that target our DNA was the most anticipated outcome after being able to map human DNA. Today, 15 years after completion, we have better genetic testing but little in the way of better treatments only continued “hope” for new treatments.  The issue that many fail to realize is that our DNA is not as important as we all think. Take this study for example, the authors concluded a healthy diet is more important than genetics in managing our weight.

Researchers calculated genetic predisposition for obesity based on the presence of 77 genetic variants associated with body mass index (BMI) and they assessed how closely participants adhered to three healthy eating patterns. They studied 8828 women and 5218 men for 20 years and they were examined every four years. In general, having an increased genetic risk for obesity was associated with increases in BMI and body weight every 4 years, but this was not the case for the individuals who adhered to a healthy  dietary pattern.Adherence to these healthy diets led to the least increases in BMI in people with a high genetic risk score for obesity. The authors concluded:

“Our results suggest that weight gain associated with genetic predisposition can be at least partly counteracted by improving adherence to healthy dietary patterns. Importantly, for people who are genetically predisposed to obesity, improving adherence to a healthy diet is more likely to lead to greater weight loss.”

What this means is we can not excuse our weight gain on “bad genes” alone. This means that our genes do not alone predict our future and we have control over our health. While the human genome project was an important scientific endeavor I do not believe there is anything to be gained in terms of new drugs that target our genes. I actually fear what messing with our genes might do for the future of our species. The diet’s used in this study include Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010, the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, and the Alternate Mediterranean Diet. These diet’s are popular among the medical world but these diets continue to perpetuate the low-fat grains and carbs are healthy ideology. I prefer more of a low carbohydrate paleo type diet. I have read from a number of cardiologists who agree that a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrate is a major cause of our health issues today. We give a talk on the paleo diet, based upon the book Paleo Cardiologist by Jack Wolfson, DO who is a cardiologist.

What we do to our selves has more control over our health than our DNA.

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Posted in Exercise and Fitness, Nutrition

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