The WWII link to modern-day weight gain (and how to overcome it)

I’ve never argued the fact that some people are genetically pre-disposed to being overweight. What I have taken exception to is how easily some people throw in the towel and accept their so-called fate.

The fact is, when it comes to obesity, you CAN beat your genes. I’ve written about this before. But it’s worth a reminder—especially since a new study revealed the genetic tendency toward obesity is getting stronger.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed data from participants in the Framingham Offspring Study—which follows the children of participants in the original Framingham Heart Study—gathered between 1971 and 2008. They were looking specifically at something called the “FTO” gene, which previous research has linked to obesity risk.

And they found that “the correlation between the [FTO gene] and body mass index increased significantly as the year of birth of participants increased.”

In fact, the correlation between the FTO gene and BMI was twice as strong for participants born after 1942 as it was for those born before.

And while the researchers wouldn’t admit it outright, they did note that “post-World War II factors such as increased reliance on technology rather than physical labor and the availability of high-calorie processed foods are likely contributors.”

In other words, genetics might play a role…but junk food and lack of exercise are still the REAL culprits. And those factors are entirely within your control.

So maybe it’s time to roll our diets back to the simple diets our parents and grandparents ate—fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, and healthy fats. After all, you didn’t see many overweight immigrants arriving on Ellis Island.


“Year of birth significantly changes impact of obesity-associated gene variant.” ScienceDaily, 12/29/14

Cohort of birth modifies the association between FTO genotype and BMI.” PNAS, epub ahead of print 12/29/14