Is your diet not working? Maybe you just don’t have the “skinny gene”


Life isn’t fair. While most of us put extra attention to every morsel of food that we eat and work double to shed what we consumed through work-out, there are those who just can’t seem to put on weight no matter how much food they gobble on.

We know at least one person that can eat impossible amounts of sweets and bacon and rice, without so much as gaining a single pound. Admit it or not, we love to hate this bunch. Usually, they blame their “curse” (yeah, right) on Biology, on how their whole family tree has been slender without paying any mind to their diets.

So it’s got us thinking – is being skinny something you’re born with? We’ve rounded up a few expert opinions to find out.

What’s a “Skinny Gene”?

The Skinny Gene is said to be responsible for weight loss by inhibiting fat storage and increasing fat metabolism. Scientists claim to have discovered this in the DNA of the many animals.

According to Dr. Jonathan Graff, an associate professor of developmental biology and internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, this specific gene was first discovered by a Yale graduate student some 50 years ago when studying fruit flies that were particularly skinny and pointed out that the change was due to a gene called “adipose.” Dr. Graff adapted this research with his team and was able to come to the conclusion that fruit flies with efficient functioning copies of adipose were indeed thinner and those with poor functioning copies were fatter. They experimented further on other organisms such as worms and mice. Upon deleting the gene in the test subjects, they found that they were fatter.

Heredity and the “Skinny Gene”

Commonly, people who are skinny point to their immediate relatives for comparison and they’re likely to be slim as well.

A study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggests that “thinness may be inherited, with children of thinner parents being likely to be genetically predisposed to a lower body weight.” The scientists studied the BMI (Body Mass Index) of 7,000 families over a five-year period and found out that parents who both share a BMI of 18.5 (considered thin) have 16.2% chance of having thin children and just 7.8 when both are on the upper half. This proves that the weight of the parents are correlated with those of the children and the latter may be passing on the genes for this to happen.

Health Risk

Slim may be in but there are also health risks to being skinny.

IRS1, the gene commonly linked to the “skinny gene”, is said to put people who have them 20% at higher risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as reported in the journal of Nature and Genetics.  “In simple terms, it is not only overweight individuals who are predisposed to these diseases, and lean individuals shouldn’t make assumptions that they are healthy based on their appearance,”according to the study’s lead scientist.

Even if genetics plays a role in our physical appearance, this is no excuse to throw in the towel in living a healthy life. Skinny gene or not, make it a habit to watch what you eat and live an active lifestyle. There’s more to getting healthy than a thin frame.

What are your thoughts about the skinny gene? Share them with us in the comment section below.

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