Back to Blog

Research Finds Genetics Are No Barrier to Weight Loss

Research finds genetics are no barrier to weight loss

An individual’s ability to lose weight is not influenced by genetics, researchers have found.

The Newcastle University study, which was published in the Guardian newspaper last month, found that weight loss techniques linked to diet, exercise and drugs can be widely beneficial.

Previously, research has found that genes are linked to weight gain, and the Newcastle University researchers had expected this study, on genes and weight loss, to produce similar results.

The FTO gene has a strong association with fat gain. Almost 16% of the population are carrying two copies of the FTO gene variant. They are on average 3kg heavier than those without the gene, and 1.7 times more likely to be obese.

John Mathers, of Newcastle University, told the British Medical Journal, “It has become clear that genetics play a part in the reason why some of us get fatter.”

“The one that has the biggest effect in most people is the FTO gene, so we wondered whether having the high-risk version of the FTO gene would affect how well you could lose weight.”

“To our surprise, we discovered that carrying the high-risk FTO gene made no difference to your ability to lose weight. So people lose weight at just the same rate if they had the FTO gene as if they didn’t.”

“There was no link between the type of the intervention – so whether the people were losing weight through diet or physical activity – and the gene. It seemed to work equally well.”

It means that individuals with the FTO gene, can be inspired to achieve weight loss.

The Guardian newspaper also reported that obesity is currently costing the NHS £16bn per year, and that it can lead to cancers, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.

When losing weight it is important to take into account other measures, such as fat mass and muscle mass, to build a full picture of your body; this white paper explains.