The Daily Telegraph this week reported as ‘a myth’ the genetic excuse for obesity - namely that having fat genes makes you fat and there is nothing you can do about it.
According to a study conducted by scientists at the Medical Research Council’s Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, people can work off around 40 per cent of their extra weight, often blamed on "fat genes" by exercising.
Researchers looked for 12 markers known to increase body mass index (BMI) and the risk of obesity in the genes of more than 20,000 men and women between the ages of 39 and 79.
For each person they calculated a "genetic predisposition score" and then asked them to fill out questionnaires about their physical activity levels.
They concluded that although some people do have a predisposition to be overweight or even obese, the "findings challenge the popular myth that obesity is unavoidable" - having an active lifestyle can go a long way to countering a person’s genetic inheritance.
"This research suggests that being physically active can reduce the effects of a person’s genetic predisposition to obesity by almost half. This means that a person can improve their weight despite this predisposition by making small changes to their level of physical activity," said Libby Dowling, Diabetes UK Clinical Advisor.
"Diabetes UK recommends 30 minutes’ physical activity five days a week. This can include walking at a faster pace, gardening, even house cleaning! As obesity is one of the key factors in developing Type 2 diabetes, it is so important to prevent weight gain. This research suggests that people, whether they have a predisposition for obesity or not, can take a certain amount of control over their weight and essentially their future health."