Dieting More Effective In People With Family History Of Obesity, Study Finds

Image used for representational purpose

Image used for representational purpose

The associated researchers notified that their findings show that bettering diet quality across time could lead to more improvement in weight loss in the case of those people who are more susceptible to the genetic obesity.

To investigate further, Dr Lu Qi, Professor of Epidemiology, and other researchers from Tulane University and Harvard University, looked at data from two large studies of U.S. health professionals.

Scientists categorised a healthy diet as being rich in fruit and vegetables, nuts and whole grains and low in salt, sugary drinks, alcohol and red and processed meats.

Previous research has shown that diets high in sugar sweetened drinks and fried foods may amplify the genetic associations with higher body weight.

The downside, as we all know, is that "healthy eating" is easier said than done - given we're all bogged down in an unhealthy food environment that makes obesity more likely for everyone, regardless of genetics. Specifically, they found changes in body mass index per 10 risk allele increments were 0.07 kg among those in the lowest third AHEI-2010 score and 0.01 kg among those in the highest third with increased AHEI-2010 scores, which corresponds to a weigh change of 0.16 kg versus -0.02 kg.

For each increase in diet quality score based on the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, BMI dropped by 0.19 for individuals at high genetic risk for obesity, but only 0.14 for those at low risk (P=0.001), they reported in BMJ.

Height was measured at baseline, and information on diet and changes in body weight were gathered every 4 years with questionnaires, from 1986 to 2006.

"Our results suggest that weight gain associated with genetic predisposition can be at least partly counteracted by improving adherence to healthy dietary patterns".

As with many genetic association studies, the effect of genetic predisposition was small, they write.

In addition, the study "underlines the critical importance of achieving healthy diets for everyone".

Dr Louisa Ells, of Teesside University in Middlesbrough, who reviewed the findings for the journal, said: "Genetic predisposition is no barrier to successful weight management and no excuse for weak health and policy responses".

Since it was purely an observational study, the authors said that no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

"Our findings highlight the importance of improving adherence to a healthy diet in the prevention of weight gain, particularly in people genetically predisposed to obesity", they concluded.

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