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January 12/16 11:25 am - Study Shows Exercise Can Counter Genetic Predisposition to Obesity

Posted by Editor on 01/12/16

A study co-authored by McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) researcher Hudson Reddon provides evidence that even moderate amounts of physical activity can help overcome a genetic predisposition for obesity.

The paper, titled 'Physical activity and genetic predisposition to obesity in a multiethnic longitudinal study', that was just published in the journal Scientific Reports, examines data gathered from a previous study called EpiDREAM, which includes more then 17,000 people from six different ethnic backgrounds (South Asian, East Asian, European, African, Latin American, Native North American).

EpiDREAM includes the genetic information on the participants, as well as exercise habits, BMI (Body Mass Index) and BAI (Body Adiposity Index, a body fat percentage measure). Reddon and his colleagues used the presence of the gene FTO rs1421085 - a gene associated with higher BMI and obesity - to study whether the level of physical activity impacted the likelihood of obesity. In other words, could a genetic predisposition to obesity be countered by exercise?

The answer was that as little as one hour per week of physical activity (the study used running) could result in a significant reduction in the risk of obesity:

"Our results show that physical activity can blunt the genetic effect of FTO rs1421085 on adiposity by 36–75% in a longitudinal multi-ethnic cohort."

See the full study Here.


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