Why are you overweight? Too much fast food - or maybe it's genetics? (PDF)

A study by researchers at UCLA say genetics plays a bigger role in weight gain and obesity, perhaps as big as dietary choices.
A study by researchers at UCLA say genetics plays a bigger role in weight gain and obesity, perhaps as big as dietary choices. iStockphoto.com

If you’re convinced your family genes are the reason why you seem to gain those extra pounds so easily, UCLA scientists say you might be right. 

In their first-of-a-kind study in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers on the Westwood campus compared the metabolic responses of more than a hundred strains of mice fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet.  

They placed the mice on a normal diet for the first eight weeks of life, then switched them for the following eigth weeks to a high-fat, high-sugar diet that mimicked a fast-food diet.

During the “fast-food” style feeding, the fat of each mouse was measured at five points. When researchers compared the measurements, they discovered body-fat increases ranging from 0 percent to more than 600 percent among the mouse strains – suggesting that DNA plays a greater role in packing on the pounds than does overconsumption. 

The study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, challenges the prevailing notion that fast-food consumption coupled with a sedentary lifestyle is the most significant factor contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The researchers say their findings emphasize the importance of genetics in controlling obesity.

Cell Metabolism UCLA Study

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