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Can exercise influence the “obesity gene”?

Did you ever wonder if there is any point to all this dieting and exercising if obesity runs in your family and you have those genes?

From the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Annual Meeting comes encouraging news. Looking at a study of 7,700 women whose health has been followed for over 20 years in the Nurses Health study, and 4,500 men from the Health Professionals Follow Up study, researchers found that walking briskly 1 hour a day can decrease the genetic effect of obesity by 50%! But for each 2 hours of TV watched, the genetic effect is increased. (We didn’t need a study to know that!)

In another study published in PLoS Medicine, a peer reviewed on line journal available to everyone, researchers looked at 45 studies which included 218,166 people worldwide with the particular risk increasing fat gene called FTO and their levels of physical activity. They found that three quarters of Americans of African as well as Northern European descent had this gene. Those who were regularly physically active were 27% less apt to be obese than those who were sedentary. The physically active folks had 33% smaller waist size and 36% less fat tissue.

One can’t say for sure that it was only the walking or other exercise that cut down on weight. Maybe those who walk for exercise are looking more carefully at portion sizes in what they eat and adapting other healthy habits. These studies didn’t separate out these factors.

Still, "the message is that while we cannot change genes, we can do something to change the influence of genes by increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behavior," said ACC study author Qibin Qi, a research fellow with the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

6 Week SUV Wellness Challenge has 20 teams!

Yoga Girls, Smith Team, Rubber Duckies, PRL Team, VCC Rehab, 5 more Vashon Community Care teams! Windermere Svelte Windermere Scuttle Butts, 4 Vashon Athletic Club teams Fair Isle Animals, Jenn’s Team, ShapeUUp (Unitarian team) and RML Team.