Skip to comments.Weight-controlling gene is discovered
Posted on 09/06/2007 8:49:14 AM PDT by nypokerface
DALLAS, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have determined a single "skinny gene" might alone control whether a body tends to accumulate fat.
"From worms to mammals, this gene controls fat formation," said Dr. Jonathan Graff of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the study's senior author. "It could explain why so many people struggle to lose weight and suggests an entirely new direction for developing medical treatments that address the current epidemic of diabetes and obesity."
The gene, called adipose, was discovered more than 50 years ago but its mechanism was not determined.
In the new study, researchers discovered the gene is likely a high-level "master switch" that is dose-sensitive, meaning the various combinations of its variants lead to a range of body types from slim to medium to obese.
"This is good news for potential obesity treatments, because its like a volume control instead of a light switch; it can be turned up or down, not just on or off," Graff said. "Eventually, of course, the idea is to develop drugs to target this system, but thats in the years to come."
The research appears in the journal Cell Metabolism.
What dumb things? Everything I’ve said has been correct. I’ve put on and taken off weight myself,and every time I’ve added weight was because my diet became poor and I wasn’t doing enough activities to burn calories.
I’ve known, worked with, and lived with overweight and fat people all my life. WITHOUT EXCEPTION, they have either had poor diets or failed to get exercise, or both. I’ve worked with people telling me how they can’t lose weight scarf down a couple whoppers and onion rings at lunch. I’ve seen people who got their stomach staples say they just can’t lose weight because they’ve tried the latest fad diet for a couple weeks and then went right back to the grande meal from taco bell when they didn’t get results or sticking to it became to hard. When asked what they do outside of work, it’s either watch tv, sit on the internet, or go out with friends. Physical activity? That’s something they “used to” do.
I can go on and on citing actual experiences, and you can keep saying I’m making assumptions, but it’s based on personal experience and all the health books I’ve read over the years. I’m right. For about 99% of the ever increasing overweight population, the problem isn’t their genes, it’s what they chose to do to their bodies.
You are not different
Introduction: Yet another piece from a never to be finished project. It was brought to mind by a current forum poster who suggested that somehow perhaps she was able to synthesize one pound of fat (containing 3,500 calories) from only 300 calories of food. Chapter 6: You are not different I figure I might as well get this out of the way sooner rather than later. At least then you can take this book back for a refund if (when) you don’t like what I’m going to say next.
It no longer amazes me how many people will vociferously argue that “My metabolism is different” when it comes to a discussion of diet for either fat loss or muscle gain. While I used to think this only went on in overweight individuals, I’ve found that athletes and bodybuilders pull the same types of crap. These are frequently the same folks who refuse to even consider a different approach, even if what they’re currently doing isn’t working (see rule #1 in the last chapter). Weird.
Individuals who have a lot of fat to lose either think that they can magically gain weight eating only a few hundred calories per day, or that they can lose weight just by rearranging their food in some special way. Diets play on this of course, hiding the simple fact that they are causing you to eat less in a complicated pseudoscience of macronutrient ratios and such. But there is rarely any true magic: it all comes down to eating less or exercising more.
Before you think I’m just coming down on overweight individuals, let me say that bodybuilders and athletes want to magically gain muscle and lose fat with a similar rearrangement of nutrients. That by adding some magical nutrient (usually an overpriced supplement) will make them start gaining muscle (or losing fat) without changing the dynamics of the energy balance equation. In the same way diet books play on the frailties of overweight individuals, supplement companies play on the frailties of the athletes telling them to “Use this product if you aren’t gaining” when the real problem lies with the diet or training program.
In short: you can’t beat thermodynamics anymore than anything else in the universe. You. Are. Not. Different. You can’t gain bodymass unless your energy intake exceeds your energy output because you can’t make something out of nothing (muscle or fat). And you can’t lose bodymass unless your energy intake is less than your energy ouput. These are rules that every system in the universe has to follow, including the human body. Nature’s rules, not mine to quote the all-knowing Mr. Miyagi. We may not like them, but we have to live by them anyway.
A quick tangent about energy balance
To get a bit ahead, this has to do with energy balance which gets a lot of chapters of discussion later on. In short, energy balance is the difference beteween your energy expendtiure (determined by your metabolic rate, activity and some other stuff) and your energy intake (your food). The difference between those two (whether expenditure exceeds intake or vice versa) determines what happens to bodymass, whether it goes up or down or stays the same. This is even ignoring the body’s tremendous ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Yes, you can introduce some slight inefficiencies into the equation, and the body can adapt in a variety of incredible (and incredibly depressing) ways. But it still basically comes down to the energy balance equation.
Back to the point
People all want desparately to believe that the fundamental law of weight loss (or weight gain) really isn’t as simple as calories in vs. calories out. I assure you, I wish it weren’t really the case. I really do. I’m mentioning that so you don’t just think I’m peeing on your parade. I wish that through some nifty manipulation of macronutrient percentages you could magically get fat loss or muscle/weight gain without changing the energy balance equation.
I’d sell a lot more copies of this book if I told you it was possible. But except for some very minor effects with such manipulations (that will look like magic but are actually easily explained from basic physiological principles), it’s not going to happen and I won’t tell you it can. Once again, it’s not that I don’t want to believe that such is possible, but the reality is that it simply can’t.
Once you get past all the details, all the issues of metabolic efficiency and repartitioning coefficients (don’t worry, this will all make sense later on) and all that techie crap, it comes right back down to calorie/energy/nutrient balance in the big scheme of things. Controlled (and that’s the key word here) studies clearly bear this out.
People who will claim with their dying breath “I can’t lose weight.” or “I can’t gain weight.” can be shown to do so when their caloric intake and caloric output is strictly controlled (meaning in a lab where every meal is meticulously weighed and measured) to accomplish one or the other. Create a large enough caloric deficit, or a large enough caloric surplus, and something simply HAS to happen. Either metabolism adapts (see below) or bodyweight changes.
It might not be fun, it might not be sustainable, but it will happen. As a buddy of mine once asked: “Why don’t you ever see a fat person come out of a concentration camp?” But that’s essentially what a fat person claiming they can’t lose weight on 500 calories per day is suggesting can happen. Because in the face of low enough calories and sufficient activity, weight has to be lost. Or the person dies. Nothing else can happen. Yet folks seem intent on believing that somehow the basic laws of the universe apply to everyone but them.
It’s not uncommon to find individuals who will claim that “I don’t eat that much and I gain weight” or “I eat a ton and can’t gain weight.” which seems to put me in my place and prove me wrong. In research, there’s typically been two attitudes towards these types of statements. The first is that there is truly some metabolic/thermodynamic miracle occurring. The second is that people are just really bad at estimating their caloric intake and expenditure. Turns out that number two is what’s usually going on.
Invariably, when you get an honest assessment of the person’s food intake (just accept that it can be done right now), their estimates are way off from reality. Studies show that people may under (or overestimate) their true caloric intake by up to 50%. Basically, unless they’ve done it for a while, most people are simply horrible at estimating how much food they are actually eating. Same thing for exercise, people tend to vastly overestimate how many calories they’ve burned.
So when you ask them to compare their food intake to their energy expenditure, they’ll tend to say that they eat very little and burn very much, and be totally off of reality. So what they are expecting to happen to their weight isn’t the same as what’s going to happen to their weight (based on the realities of the energy balance equation).
A lot of the problem is that food intake is measured by survey and people’s memories are notoriously bad, we tend to remember the good days and report those and forget that cake binge or the party last weekend. Health conscious individuals who are concerned with the appearance of health won’t report that trip to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger so that their fat intake will look lower than it really is as well. This makes it tremendously difficult for researchers to get an accurate measurement of how people really eat.
Even the act of writing down your food intake every day makes people eat differently, so studies where subjects are required to keep a written log (instead of relying on memory) tend to be misleading as well. The only way to really measure calorie intake and expenditure is in a lab where food intake is striclty controlled and measured, and activity is strictly measured. This gets expensive fast. But when you do it, you always find that people simply suck at estimating how much they’re really eating or exercising.
A friend of mine who does research on alcohol intake tells me that the same thing goes on: college students, who don’t want to look like alcholics in training, will vastly under-report how much they are really drinking on surveys. Meaning studies that rely on college students to be honest get a very misleading view of reality. If you believe the studies, there is little drinking going on on a college campus. Go visit one on a Thursday night and tell me if that’s reality.
There’s also the issue of people telling researchers what they think the researchers want to hear making it tough to get a really accurate report from anybody. Do you really think that such a small percentage of folks cheat on their spouses (what surveys invariably show) or are people just lying to the researchers? Probably the latter. Humans are simply screwy when it comes to this sort of thing, even when they’re trying to be honeset. And animal studies can only tell us so much when it comes to the issue.
This is why, a little later on, I’m going to strongly suggest you spend some time truly measuring your food intake, with scales, measuring spoons and all of that stuff. It is a huge pain in the ass but a very necessary one for a lot of people. You might be surprised at the difference between how much you think you’re eating and how much you’re really eating.
Anyway to finish up, if there were truly an exception to this simple thermodynamic rule, the government would need to study it because that person would be a living breathing fusion reactor, able to make calories out of thin air ; or able to burn them off to an unlimited degree. They could use that person’s body to develop free energy machines to provide unlimited energy for the world if one of these people truly existed. You know where this is going even if you don’t really want to believe it. I can picture you digging for your book receipt now, trying to straighten all the bent pages so that you can get a refund. But before you do, there’s a big ‘however’ coming up. So at least finish this chapter before you throw the book down in disgust because it’s not what you want to hear.
However, not everybody has it as easy as everybody else
Before you go ballstic on me and start composing a nasty letter to my publisher (which is probably me anyhow), I’ll be the first to admit that not everybody has it easy as others. Some people’s bodies are, in fact, demonstrably more resistant to weight loss (or gain) than others. Not that they can’t lose (or gain) weight but it comes off or on more slowly. More accurately, their bodies fight back harder.
Researchers call these folks Diet Resistant and the reasons behind this resistance is just starting to be determined. It probably has to do with how these individuals brains perceive changes in caloric intake which determines how their brains react to those changes. Some people’s bodies simply increase metabolic rate more quickly (or drop it more quickly) in response to increased or decreased calories. You can see similar variations in terms of what’s lost during dieting; given the same diet and exercise program, some people will lose a lot more muscle than another.
And we all have that one friend who eats nothing but ice cream and soda and never gains a pound. Of course, when you look closely, you find that the person really isn’t eating as much as it looks like overall, or they are only eating that one big meal per day that you happened to see, or they are burning it off because they are constantly moving (in essence, they fidget the excess calories off), or they compensate the next day after eating a lot and eat very little so that overall they maintain their weight.
These people’s brains sense the caloric excess more readily and either blunt hunger harder and faster, or get the person to move more, to burn it off. The same thing happens in reverse, some people’s metabolic rates slow down faster when calories are restricted, or makes them move around less during the day so they burn fewer calories, making further fat loss a lot harder. I’ll talk about more specifics in the chapters on metabolic rate but it turns out the the ability to adapt to either increasing or decreasing calories is quite significant and highly variable; some people really do have it easier (or harder) than others.
So there is no doubt that there are individual differences and efficiencies between people, that probably explains why you can find one person who reports near-magical results with nearly every diet out there: they happened to hit the one that just ‘fit’ their individual metabolism and chemistry. It would be silly to ignore all of that and I hate being silly.
But that doesn’t change the fundamental rules of thermodynamics which apply to everybody and everything. Given 100 calories, the most you can store is 100 calories. Sure, one person may only store 75, while another stores all 100, but 100 is still the maximum. It’s a physiological impossibility because you can’t make something out of nothing. There’s lots of things like this, that you simply can’t do. You can’t make gold out of lead, you can’t get a stripper to work on credit, and you can’t store 500 calories if you only ate 300.
So when a 300 pound individual, who probably has a maintenance intake of 4000+ calories, says that they gained weight on 1400 calories I have to be very leery of how true that is. Either they are that 1 in 100,000 person with a metabolic rate below 1400 at that bodyweight (who has never been found to exist in any study on the topic over a span of about 5+ decades), or they aren’t being accurate in how much food they are eating or how many calories they are burning each day. I’m not saying that they are deliberately lying, either, I want to make that very clear. They are just as bad as everybody else at estimating their caloric intake and expenditure. Which is apparently pretty bad.
Which is why you can’t magically gain weight on 1000 calories per day if your maintenance intake is 2000 calories per day. Either your body will mobilize stored fuels, or it will slow down metabolic rate to 1000 to put you back into balance. Something has to happen. But weight gain on sub-maintenance calories isn’t one of them.
It’s also why you can’t not gain weight on 3000 calories per day if your metabolic rate is only 2000 calories per day. Either you start storing fuel or your body is speeding up metabolic rate to compensate. Something has to happen.
I’ll mention again that you can skew this relationship a little bit by using some nutritional tricks. This is called repartitioning where you trick the body to shuttle calories from one place to another without really changing total bodyweight. Repartitioning agents will look like a thermodynamic miracle. They kind of are but not really. The calories aren’t magically appearing or disappearing, you’re just affecting where they go. So it’s no miracle, it’s just nifty and helpful from a body recomposition point of view.
So why bother?
At this point you may be wondering why you should bother with all of the details I’m going to present if it’s really just calories in vs. calories out. Note that in this chapter I’ve carefully referred to only changes in weight. If all you care about is losing or gaining weight, and don’t care about the quality of what you’re gaining or losing, just find a way to increase or decrease calories and you’ll be fine. I can sum up a diet for you in 3 sentences: “Eat less. Exercise more. Repeat.” If you just want to gain weight and don’t care what you gain, I can also sum it up in 3 sentences: “Eat more. Exercise less. Repeat.”
But, if you’re concerned with what you’re losing or gaining (in terms of body composition), it does matter to a degree where the calories come from. A 2000 calorie/day diet that is 100% carbohydrate will cause different amounts of fat and muscle loss than a 2000 calories/day diet that is 100% protein. It also matters what kind of activity (none vs. aerobics only vs. weight training) you do. Basically, while you can’t drastically affect how quickly the weight comes off or goes on, you can change what comes off or goes on. Which is what body recomposition is all about.
No, not a weight problem like michael moore, but I’ve had periods where I’ve gone up to weigh more than I’d like. When that happened, it was a result of what I ate and what I did, not any genetics.
It’s like how rush says people tell him he can’t understand what it’s like to be poor because he’s rich now. But he was poor, and he knows what it takes to get out of it. I know what it takes to lose weight. I’ve done it and I’ve helped other people do it. I helped someone who was “chronically overweight” and lose a good deal of weight by designing an exercise plan and going over their diet. When they followed it, they lost weight fast and looked great. When they fell off because they “just didn’t have the time right now” they gained it all back. It wasn’t the fault of genetics, if was their fault. Some people don’t like to hear it but it’s the truth.
Rush has said this in the past, and I’ll echo it here: The absolute BEST thing you can do in your life is to refuse to let anyone or anything take credit for your circumstances in life. Once you blame genetics, being ‘big boned’, or whatever for your lot in life, you cede control over that part of your life. That thing got you into it and only that thing can get you out of it. You lose power and control over your life when you do that. The most liberating thing is saying “I got myself into this, so I can get myself out of this”. In weight, work, whatever.
Now the usual suspects on this thread will bash me for saying that and tell me I’m being an anti-fat bigot or I just don’t understand, but if someone were to heed my advice, they’d be able to free themselves. But I know I’ll be attacked for speaking the truth. Fudge ‘em.
The very first thing you said was dumb. It was clear that the topic of the article interested you not at all -- you had your opinion to voice, after all.
Honest answer - yes.
In addition to:
- having cut as much sugar/carbohydrates out of my diet as possible (no sweats, no sodas, as little bread as possible) and altering my diet to include more vegetables.
- reducing both the number (2 per day - lunch and dinner) and portion size of my meals (now using a meal prep service instead of just helping myself)
- the exercise that I’m able to perform due to injuries received in the military. I can’t run or bicycle without grinding the enamel off my teeth so I do a 2 mile force march with 60 lbs rucksack along with weight training.
I’m also on prescription medication that aids in the treatment of insulin resistance. And yes the weight is coming off SLOWLY.... VERY SLOWLY. I’m 6 foot and weight about 240 ... 50 lbs more than I feel I should. It has taken me a year to take off about 10 - 12 lbs.
Yes I have gone on crash diets .... hard core Atkins was the only thing that actually took the weight off. I got down to 205 lbs. Doctor said I had to stop though due to liver and blood tests. And as soon as I went back on the “normal” diet, I put the weight right back on.
So now let me ask you a question. Actions for controlling your weight can be divided into two broad categories, food related and activity related. If a person does have a medically recognized condition (say insulin resistance), shouldn’t they take their medication to treat the condition? What if they honestly have a thyroid problem and are being treated by a doctor? And if that is ok, why not a vaccine against a virus found to cause people to gain weight, or a treatment for a gene disorder?
In short, why in your mind is there only ONE way to treat obesity?
You just don’t get it. You probably don’t want to.
If you’re fat because of genetics - so what? What then? Wait for a miracle cure that may never come?
In psychiatry, there’s a newer school of thought called Solution Oriented Brief Therapy (SBT). In a nutshell, it focuses on solutions rather than causes of problems. Traditional therapy has focused on long term digging out of past problems to uncover the ‘root cause’. But once you do that, the problem is still there. What most patients need is not to find the root cause, but a solution to the actual problem. THAT is what I am talking about, and what you refuse to see.
Going on and on about “it’s genetic” or “my cousin could eat a gallon of chunky monkey ice cream a day and not gain weight” won’t make a lick of difference in anyone’s life today. If this does pan out, how far away is treatment - a decade? More? How is that going to help one single person right now?
The truth is it won’t. In fact, in the short term it will hurt more than it will help because it will give them an excuse to shrug their shoulders and “I can’t lose weight because it’s in my genes” instead of doing the work. Just like the drug abuser will say “I can’t change because my dad was a drug abuser” or “I had a rotten childhood so I’ll always be this way.”
Right now this research is like traditional therapy - it may be interesting for academic and intellectual purposes, but any benefit is purely coincidental. The real solution is in the present, and it starts with saying “Ok, there may be outside factors for my situation but I can’t do anything to change those things. What can I do NOW to improve things.”
Of course, I doubt that you are actually capable of grasping that, because you’re too interested in being offended on behalf of others and reacting instead of thinking.
There’s not only one way - as in your case, there may actually be underlying medical conditions that lead to more weight gain. Medical, not genetic like this article was addressing. Additional, some people may not be able to exercise at all, and that can contribute to it.
But what I’ve been talking about is the 99% of the population that is fat because of what they do (or don’t do) and what they eat. I’m sure you’ve known people like that in your life. It’s almost impossible not to. For the VAST majority of people, adjusting their food intake and finding some way to get physical activity will be the key to their weight loss, but they simple refuse to do it.
Yup. I was wondering when it would start.
Look, some people can control their weight with some effort. Some people, however, seem impossible to control, no matter how good they are. They don’t lose weight, or hardly any at all.
It makes perfect sense when there are some of us who can eat junk food till the cows come home and never get fat, that some people won’t eat and never get thin.
Look, son. This is an interesting article. You're not discussing the interesting article. You're just repeating the same thing, over and over.
Nobody on the thread will deny that "eat right and exercise" are good things, when it comes to weight. You're pounding away at something we all know, and none deny.
This article isn't about that, though. And you seem completely immune to that fact.
So why don't you shut up and take a look at what the article has to say. I promise you, it's a hell of a lot more interesting than anything you've posted.
You’re certainly giving it your best, taxcontrol. Congrats on your weight loss and on staying with your program.
I wonder what would happen if you got off bread altogether and anything containing wheat — maybe experiment for a month. Your success with Atkins indicates that something in the carb family is a very significant factor.
Have you read Barry Sears’ books on the Zone diet? He advocates a balanced diet with very low glycemic carbs. This means you eat sufficient protein at every meal and snack time plus large quantities of veggies and, at least at first, no bread or pasta at all. Works for me every time.
Hey, can I get some of them ‘skinny genes’ so someday I can fit into some ‘skinny JEANS’? ;o)
The idea being that those who have trouble with the liver functions can give their body a break between cycles.
True, BUT it’s also known that non-genetic “environmental” factors can play a role in height. Children not getting good nutrition, diseases, etc. There is a baseline genetic, and there is environmental influence.
Even moreso, true, is there environmental influence on weight. But I don’t doubt for a second that there is a genetic baseline. Look at families! And look at us skinnies who can’t get fat!
This NATURALLY skinny (as also evidenced by my skinny dad and his 6 brothers and sisters) person, who generally can’t gain/keep 5 lbs despite lots of MickeyD and no exercise (never mind aging, which let me gain more), absolutely believes some people are naturally fat and have trouble LOSING it.
I read it. It still is largely meaningless especially in light of the responses I’ve received from you and others.
They have found a gene that MIGHT control weight gain. What does that mean? That people are no longer responsible for their weight? What implications does that have now for overweight people?
In fact, it makes what people eat and how they exercise MORE important. If I was genetically predisposed to high blood pressure, wouldn’t I bear more responsibility for watching my salt intake, not less???
And as far as talking about the article, you haven’t even done that yourself. In fact, your only comments up to this point have been to ME talking not about the article, but talking about how I’m not talking about the article!
That could be because you’re incapable of having an actual intelligent discussion, and instead are a specialist at being offended on the behalf of others. Maybe because you’re such a good and superior person. A superior person that commands another poster to talk about the article, but has never done so himself.
What a load of sanctimonious BS you have been piling on this thread.
Who's acting like a victim? This thread is about the discovery of the scientific why some people are genetically predisposed to be fatter than other people.
And yet all we're hearing about from you and others is this theory that fat people are trying to play the victim card.
What does the scientific reality of genetics have to do with playing a victim card?
Why are you trying to put words in other people's mouths? Where has anyone said that genetic predisposition to weight gain absolves anyone of responsibility for their own health?
Yes, that is the biggest factor. But just like anything else affected by the genes, the gene could make it harder for one person to switch off the appetite centers and/or to metabolize what is eaten rather than storing it as fat. In other words, it would make it a lot harder (but not impossible) for one person to maintain a weight of 150 pounds than it does another.
“If youre fat because of genetics - so what? What then? Wait for a miracle cure that may never come?”
Why do you ASSUME just because a fact is pointed out (or even just a theory) such as there is a varying genetic component to this, that those who believe it or are at least open to it think that means noone has to “eat right” or “exercise sufficiently”?
It doesn’t. It is just a genetics statement.
The problem is people these days seem to see everything as genetics vs. environment, when in reality BOTH influence the outcome.
I could say your approach tends to cast aspersions upon the subject as totally being at fault for being fat.
Tell that to Polynesians and Eskimos.
Again, just because some of us acknowledge that some people just have a hell of a time not being fat because that’s just how their bodies behave, doesn’t mean we don’t think people should try the environmental influences.