While some people grind hard all day just to shed a few pounds, others can afford to stack on the calories without gaining even an ounce of weight. And although exercise and diet do contribute to weight gain and loss, scientists have revealed that there are other uncontrollable factors that make some of us more susceptible to obesity.
And as expected, genetics has a huge part to play. Sadaf Farooqi from University of Cambridge said in a statement:
This research shows for the first time that healthy thin people are generally thin because they have a lower burden of genes that increase a person's chances of being overweight and not because they are morally superior, as some people like to suggest.
A large-scale study
Scientists reached this conclusion by comparing the genetic make-up of a large participant pool: 1,600 participants were thin, 2,000 were suffering from obesity, and 10,400 (the control group) were considered normal. The participants were also asked to complete a questionnaire based on their lifestyle and eating habits.
From the data, scientists were then able to calculate the ‘genetic risk score’ of each participant. Their findings, which were published in the journal PLOS Genetics in 2019, showed that the genes of the obese participants already indicated an increased risk of weight gain compared to those of a normal or slim weight.
Scientists agree that the genome is not the sole determinant of weight gain and loss, but the study also shows that overweight people do have an unfair advantage. Farooqi added:
It's easy to rush to judgment and criticise people for their weight, but science shows that things are much more complex. We have much less control over our weight than we would like to think.
Some people are just not that interested in food whereas others can eat what they like, but never put on weight. If we can find the genes that prevent them from putting on weight, we may be able to target those genes to find new weight loss strategies and help people who do not have this advantage