Genetic Predisposition To Obesity Means One Has To Exercise More, Study Shows

In Education

New research from Vanderbilt University Medical Center shows that individuals with a higher genetic predisposition to obesity must exert more effort in their exercise routines compared to those with a lower genetic risk. This highlights the unequal impact of genetics on fitness outcomes, reinforcing the notion that life’s fairness extends even to the gym.

Individuals with predisposition to obesity need to exercise more

The research team utilized data from the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program to investigate links between genetic predisposition to higher body mass index and physical activity levels needed to combat obesity.

According to senior author of the study, Douglas Ruderfer, director of the Center for Digital Genomic Medicine at VUMC, genetic factors influence the amount of physical activity required to combat obesity, suggesting that individual differences are not considered in current physical activity guidelines. The study suggests that individuals with a higher genetic risk may need to take more steps per day to mitigate obesity.

Dr. Ruderfer highlights the significance of individual activity levels in mitigating genetic predispositions to obesity. He emphasizes that regardless of one’s genetic risk, personal activity, along with other factors such as diet and environment, significantly influence outcomes.

Physical activity important in curbing obesity

The study involving 3,124 middle-aged participants who owned Fitbit devices and walked an average of 8,326 steps daily for over five years found that obesity incidence increased from 13% to 43% across different polygenic risk score groups. Individuals in the 75th percentile of polygenic risk score needed to walk 2,280 more steps per day to achieve a similar obesity risk level as those in the 50th percentile.

Lead author Dr Evan Brittain, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at VUMC, highlights the importance of physical activity in reducing the risk of obesity, especially for individuals with a higher genetic predisposition. The research quantifies the amount of activity needed to mitigate this risk. Dr. Brittain suggests that in the future, genetic data could be integrated into electronic health records to tailor personalized physical activity recommendations from healthcare providers.

Mobile Sliding Menu