Genetic Influences on Childhood Obesity

There have been many theories on what causes obesity. Some wonder if there is a virus that causes it. Others firmly believe that it’s merely lifestyle and dietary habits that cause obesity. Still others claim that genetics plays an important role in obesity. The truth is that genetics can play a role in obesity. However, it’s not the determining factor.

Obesity Can Be Genetic.

First off, let’s take a look at the science. Studies have shown that there are “weight regulating” genes that seem to contribute to obesity. These genes regulate hormone release, control food intake or hunger, and also control metabolism. Leptin, one of the hormones that controls hunger, is regulated by a gene. Thus it’s easy to see that a person can inherit a good leptin regulating system or an ineffective leptin regulating system.

If you suspect genetics are contributing to your obesity take a look at your family history. Are your parents obese? What about your siblings? Grandparents? Does your family suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes or high cholesterol? If they do, chances are you may have a genetic predisposition to obesity.

Genes Aren’t The Predominating Factor In Obesity.

While genetics may play a role in your predisposition to obesity, it’s not what makes a person gain weight. Diet and lifestyle are still the primary contributors. If you eat more than you burn in a daily basis, you’re going to gain weight.

So if you have a leptin imbalance and are always feeling hunger, a person has to look to other lifestyle and eating habits to support a healthy weight. For example, eating foods that promote healthy leptin levels. Eating often and eating foods that are high in fiber also help. For example, eating an apple for a snack instead of potato chips.

Exercise also plays an important role in balancing hormones and metabolism. The hard truth is that most obesity is caused by lifestyle choices.


For most people, lifestyle choices are learned. Parents help set the foundation for a child to live a healthy life and to make healthy choices. This is why obese children often have obese parents. A lifetime of poor habits can add up. The good news is that habits can be changed. Lifestyle choices can be modified to support good health and weight loss.

You Have the Control.

While obesity can be genetic, most people struggling with obesity can prevail over their genes to live a healthy life. Exercise, good dietary choices and a lifestyle that supports weight loss and good health all help change your metabolism, hormonal systems and your ability to lose weight.

If you’re struggling to lose weight and you have a family history of obesity you may have inherited the condition. Yet the choice to live a healthy life is still yours. You can take steps to control your weight and your life. Genetics don’t have to win. A diagnosis of obesity doesn’t have to rule your life.

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