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by Marijana Domazet, Saturday, August 31, 2013 | Categories: Obesity

We often talk about the complex issues related to the development of obesity, both on an individual and societal level. Recently, we were frustrated to read an editorial on the importance of genetics in the development of obesity that seemed to interpret research findings in this field far too narrowly.

In general, the three most commonly discussed genes have been the so called- Mrap2 gene, the FTO gene and the SIM1 gene. We are aware of many studies, using both animal and human participants, which have shown intriguing results as to what genes may play a role in the development of obesity.

Naturally these findings are encouraging as they may one day lead to the development of treatments targeting those genes, or even develop treatment that can complement current treatments. This is unlikely to happen in the near future, as establishing research findings is a lengthy process followed by an even longer process of treatment trials.

There is little denying that some individuals may be more likely to become obese due to their genetic make-up. However, not all individuals that could become obese actually develop obesity, and not all obese individuals have “obesity genes”. This is probably due to that fact that obesity is a result of the interaction between an individual’s vulnerability (certain genes etc.) and their environment (easier access to certain foods, inability to exercise due to time constrains, obesity side effect of other treatment etc.). To say that an individual is obese as a result of their genes is passive and implies that all that is required is the right treatment or just accepting obesity.

This is why a wide range of research into obesity, from understanding community interventions to looking into adipose tissue, is warranted. Obesity has never been a simple issue, and it is our hope that individuals struggling with obesity never assume that it is not possible to treat obesity as a result of their genes. It is not easy to treat obesity, but from our experience we certainly know it’s not impossible.

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