Are Biological Factors Causing Obesity?

Exercise and diet ‘not enough to lose weight’: Doctors should treat obesity as a chronic disease because of biological factors that cause it

  • Dieting triggers biological mechanisms which encourage weight gain
  • Evidence suggests these biological adaptations could persist indefinitely
  • Critics say obese people can lose weight if they are committed enough

Dieting triggers several biological systems that drive us to eat high-calorie foods and gain weight – a hangover from when humans needed to store fat to survive in times of scarcity.

And according to the four experts writing in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, these biological reasons are why obese people often fail to maintain long-term weight loss.

Lead author Dr Christopher Ochner, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said lifestyle changes do not appear capable of overriding this fat-loss defence in most patients.

‘Although lifestyle modifications may result in lasting weight loss in overweight individuals, in those with chronic obesity bodyweight seems to become biologically defended,’ he said.

‘Therefore, the current advice to eat less and exercise more may be no more effective for most obese individuals than a recommendation to avoid sharp objects for someone bleeding profusely.’

He said that recent evidence suggests these biological adaptations could persist indefinitely, even if the patient successfully loses weight. 

He added: ‘Few individuals ever truly recover from obesity; rather they suffer from “obesity in remission”. 

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New Research Shows More Genetic Links To Obesity

Obesity treatment experts are taking the first steps toward identifying the specific genes that are contributing to obesity. CBS News reports that the proteins produced by the genes could offer targets for the development of new drugs to fight obesity.

“Although lifestyle modifications may result in lasting weight loss in individuals who are overweight, in those with chronic obesity, body weight seems to become biologically ‘stamped in’ and defended,” Dr. Christopher Ochner, lead author and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said in a press statement, as reported by CBS News.

The researchers hope get to the root of the problem by discovering which genes influence where fat is deposited.

According to the CDC, obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

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