Weight gain is caused by eating more calories than we need and whether it is the fault of the metabolism, a sedentary job, any other reason, it does not change what shows up on the scales.
In fact, obese people often have a faster metabolism than thin people because they need to fuel a much larger body.
However, scientists at the University of Cambridge have now found that your genes can cause a slow metabolism.
They recently identified a gene called KSR2, which is active in the brain and affects how the cells interpret the signals from hormones such as insulin. If this gene is absent, it will make the metabolism basal rate slower. This is the speed at which the body burns calories.
After carrying out experiments on mice, scientists looked 2000 obese patients and found that many people carried this genetic mutation.
The Cambridge team is now investigating the genetic factors of obesity and are hoping to translate these findings into beneficial therapies in the future. However, the genes are not the only factors that govern the speed of the metabolism.
It depends upon our physical make up, our age and activity levels too.
What can we do about this?
If you do have this genetic mutation, it may be a long time before a treatment is found to address the problem. Even the scientists are unsure exactly how common this is and have a long way to go before they come up with a treatment.
However, you can take steps to increase the speed of your metabolism. One way is getting more fit and active.
The body’s composition affects the speed of the metabolism. If you have more muscle tissue than fat your metabolism will be faster than if your body mass is made up from predominantly fatty tissue.
Another issue is age. As we grow older, the metabolism slows down and many people find themselves putting on weight as they approach middle age.
It can come as a shock to realise that we cannot eat and drink in the same way as we used to, without the evidence showing up on our midriffs.
What does all this mean?
First up, there is not really a fat gene. But you may find that you do put on weight more easily if you do carry this genetic condition. There is not much you can do about that, but watching your weight and trying to keep fit and active will help your general health.
Still, the good news is that it turns out that the old excuse of being overweight because of a slow metabolism or genes may have some truth in it!
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