Obesity is a worldwide concern that is now growing in an alarming rate. All the age group and all the levels in the society are affected with obesity. The prevalence is more alarming in children due to the unhealthy food habits and poor lifestyle. Excess weight gain makes the body vulnerable to various associated risks.
The accumulation of excess fat in the body is termed as obesity and it is linked with serious diseases such as autism disorder, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease etc. Environmental factors such as socioeconomic status, diet habits in the family, alcohol consumption, physical activity etc promotes obesity. Excess weight gain might affect the thinking ability of a person.
Obesity is a result of complicated network between genes, environment and daily life style of a person. It results in increase in chronic diseases and increased risk of death. It affects the health of the population and the health of the economy of the nation.
Cause of obesity
Causes of obesity include sedentary lifestyle, diet, age, pregnancy and menopause, lifestyle, hormonal changes, medications, eating disorder and genetic factor. All these contribute to adding extra weight to the body. Here we shall mainly discuss the effect of gene factor on obesity.
How you feel hungry
The body uses energy from food to function properly. There is a balance maintained between food intake and calories that is burned. This naturally makes a body eat when required and stop when the need is fulfilled.
Hunger is a state of mind. The coordination between brain and stomach initiates hunger and also suppresses the same. Coordination between various parts in the brain regulate hunger. In a proper coordination the brain sends the message to stop eating. In certain genetic diseases the connection is broken and brain is not able to convey the stop message even when the stomach is full.
What are genes?
Genes are the special coding in human that determines how the body grows and develops. It is passed from parents to you and from you to your offspring. This is the reason you resemble your parents. Genes determines the eye color, hair color and carries the trait of any genetic disorder and passes it in the family. Obesity is one of the genetic disorders that might be carried from generation to generation.
Obesity is inherited from parents through two ways. Either the genes increase your tendency to gain weight or there might be a version of the genes that leads to obesity. The former is the situation where diet and lifestyle modification can control the obesity whereas in the gene variant the diet and lifestyle changes have no effect on obesity.
Impact of genetic factor on obesity
Genes of a person determines the metabolism of the body. It affects one’s appetite and food consumption. People have fat masses accumulated in different parts of their body, this also is determined by the genes.
Obesity occurs with mutation of genes rather than a fault in a single gene. 43% of the population has genes that promote obesity under favorable circumstances. The outer environment makes the genes more susceptible to obesity. The fat related genes encourage fat accumulation in the body and the individual who carries obesity genes and follow healthy eating habits and a proper lifestyle is easily able to keep obesity away.
Some of the rare genetic disorders of obesity are –
Leptin receptor deficiency Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells and it sends brain the message when stomach is full. The certain change in the genes causes dysfunction of the leptin receptor and this obstructs the message of telling the brain that the stomach is full. The brain is under the impression that body is starving so the individual keeps on eating even when the stomach is full. This causes onset of severe obesity.
Proopiomelanocortin deficiency (POMC) It is a genetic variant disorder that prevents the message of when to eat and when to stop eating. This results in onset of obesity when a child is a year old. It causes excessive eating and imbalance of hormones.
Bardet Biedl syndrome being a genetic variant disorder it affects the pathway that connects brain and body. The body has no control to stop eating as the brain thinks the body is starving. Signs and symptoms of it differs from person to person.
Alstrom syndrome The babies with this disorder are born with normal weight but gain weight in 7 days. This continues till adulthood. The change in the genes disrupts the signal to and from the brain.
Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) Hypothalamus, a part in the brain understands when the stomach is full and prevents the body from eating more. The function of the hypothalamus is governed by chromosome 15. The change in particular chromosome disturbs the function of hypothalamus and thus the person with PWS always feels hungry.
It is clear that variant in genes have a significant role in development of obesity. Also, we now know that the genes related to obesity express itself under given environment. Thus, if a body carries the obesity gene it is important for the person to follow a proper balanced diet that is tailored according to the need of the body. Taking help from the healthcare professionals will help you make the right choice of food to eat and will help you lead a healthy lifestyle.