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What do you think? Genes? or Environment? I think it’s hard to really pinpoint the direct cause of obesity because really there is not just ONE cause. There are two rules of thought here: (1) we have genes that cause us to be fat, and (2) that our environment will make us fat. Two plausible explanations. Could both be true? In this case—Yes! Environmental factors, like consumption of energy-dense food, exercise, sleep patterns or even social interactions play a role in the expression of our genes, something that is called epigenetics.
I took a class in molecular nutrition last semester and we studied the effects of various nutrients (mainly trace nutrients like vitamin B12, biotin and magnesium) and found that the consumption of certain nutrients, or lack thereof, resulted in either expressing or not expressing certain genes. You might have the gene for blue eyes (passed on by your parents) but if you don’t express the gene then you won’t have blue eyes. Similar expression occurs with obesity and other diseases (i.e., diabetes, heart disease). We all have a “obesity gene” but if its not being expressed then obesity (or its related effects) won’t be turned on—if its not turned on our likelihood of becoming obese is negligible. What turns our obesity gene off? Exercise, eating whole foods, lots of sleep, unprocessed foods, fasting, positive social environment and other environmental factors can turn off this gene! This is epigenetics at its finest!
So…both genes and the environment play a role in obesity, and other diseases!