We know that many people struggle with obesity, even if they’ve stopped smoking. Now scientists are trying to understand why and how some people are able to lose weight, while others remain overweight.
In a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers led by neuroscientist Zhenan Bao say their findings suggest obesity may be a genetic phenomenon that occurs in humans, rather than a problem caused directly by factors like stress and exposure to certain foods.
“We’ve discovered that eating a lot of carbs is a better predictor than smoking or a high level of physical activity for the development of obesity,” Bao tells Medical Daily. “We think that carbs and protein are very closely linked and this is possibly genetically influenced. If we could find the genetic factors behind the obesity of different people, we would see that diet would help, but not necessarily exercise and exercise alone would be a good way to lose weight.”
The study involved 14 healthy overweight men and women who had an average body mass index of 29.3 and an average waist circumference of about 30 cm (12 inches). All participants gave written informed consent before the study began. After the data collection began, all the participants had to eat a healthy diet that included lean protein, fat free carbohydrates, and fat-free vegetable oil supplements without animal products, saturated fat, trans fat or alcohol.
Participants also were asked to wear special accelerometers to measure their body mass index (BMI) at regular intervals over a period of three months. Participants also performed treadmill running, and the number of calories they burn while doing the runs. Participants who ran the least amount of time and burned the most calories each session had the highest obesity risk.
The study found that having the highest BMI among the 18 participants did not predict obesity, even though most of them were obese. Similarly, participants with a high waist circumference or low BMI did not have an increased risk of obesity after being randomly assigned to eat diets high in carbs, protein, and fat, or lower in carbs, protein, and fat.
After each diet, the researchers monitored the participants’ blood sugar, glucose and insulin levels at regular intervals using a blood glucose meter.
“What we did is take the data from three individuals who had the highest BMI (obese) and three individuals who had the lowest BMI (obese-free) and compare them, based on their insulin levels, blood sugars and glucose,” reports Dr. Zhenan Bao. “We found that
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