The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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When you see families at local restaurants, stores, and other public places, you cannot help but notice that many family members have similar body shapes. Lean parents with an athletic build tend to have leaner children. This trend may extend to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents as well. While things like diet and exercise play a clear role in your ability to achieve and maintain healthy body weight, you may be wondering if genetics plays a role in your ability to maintain or lose weight. Scientists have not yet found a specific “fat gene,” but there are some genetic factors that may make you more likely to have the same body shape as your family members.

How the Body Stores and Burns Fat
Your genetic makeup does dictate how your body stores fat as well as how it burns it. These factors clearly impact how much body fat you carry. You still have complete control over the foods that you consume and how active you are. If you have a tendency to accumulate body fat and more difficulty shedding that fat than other people, it makes sense to maintain a healthy diet and to be as active as possible. Essentially, you may need to try much harder than other people, but you can still achieve the desired results.

Where Body Fat Is Stored
In addition to being more likely to store fat and finding it more challenging to burn fat stores, you may also be predisposed to carrying fat in specific regions of your body. For example, some genes make it more likely for you to carry weight around the midsection rather than for the fat to be equally distributed. Because of this, you may appear to be more overweight than someone whose fat is more evenly distributed. In these cases cosmetic procedures like cool sculpting can be helpful.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease and Diabetes
There are genetic links to heart disease and diabetes. The risk of developing these conditions may increase as you get farther away from a targeted, healthy body weight. While a direct correlation between body weight, body fat and genes has not been found, these conditions that are linked to being overweight and obese may indicate that some people would find it more challenging than others to achieve a desired weight because of genetic factors.

You do not need to get specific genetic tests to determine if your genetics may play a role in your current weight loss and maintenance challenges. Instead, you only have to take a closer look at your family members’ body mass, diet and exercise habits, and health histories. While genetics may seemingly be working against you, this does not mean that you cannot achieve the results that you desire. You can make bold efforts to improve your diet and exercise habits. You may also get help from cosmetic procedures, such as cool sculpting, liposuction and other procedures.

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