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If You Have These Genes, You Are at Risk of Obesity

Learn how you can override genetic “faults” and lose weight.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

We often blame our inability to lose weight on our genes. Some doctors try to brush this off and blame you for your issues when in fact there can be an underlying genetic predisposition to being overweight and continually having your hands in the "cookie jar" thanks to your "sweet tooth." The genes covered here in this article represent a small but strong sample of the markers that affect our risks for obesity and lifestyle diseases. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Sad woman in anticipation of an order.

This gene pair is a marker that has the response for appetite better known as the Adiponectin gene. When you are a carrier or have a double pair or the A allele there is a tendency to have lower adiponectin (​​a hormone your adipose (fat) tissue releases that helps with insulin sensitivity and inflammation) levels (low levels increase obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis) which results in an increased appetite as well as a diminished ability to mobilize fat from stored form to energy use. It makes it much more difficult to lose weight because of this. If you have an A allele you should focus on a higher monounsaturated fat diet and less saturated fat and carbohydrates.



insulin resistance

The sister gene to ADIPOQ1 with the G allele being the increased risk of appetite, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. ADIPOQ1 has a more clinical basis for being a culprit in health issues but when combined with ADIPOQ2 the risks significantly increase in developing lifestyle based diseases at a faster rate.


GHSR(1)—the Hunger Gene

woman thinking about eating a potato chip and practicing mindful eating

The Ghrelin receptor gene. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. It is a peptide in the digestive tract that has an effect on the nervous system inducing hunger. It also has a significant role in regulating the rate and distribution of energy use in the body. It increases hunger, stomach acid and digestive motility to prepare for food intake. In this gene pair the T allele results in less appetite regulation and increased risk of obesity. Whereas the C allele decreases the risk for obesity and has better appetite control every day.



Close up portrait of a hungry greedy girl eating donuts

The Proopiomelancortin (POMC) gene has many different effects on the body and nervous system. In the context of how it affects your appetite and weight gain/loss is the focus here. The G allele results in normal appetite and is protective against risks of obesity. The A allele increases appetite, and resultant BMI (body mass index) or weight overall. 


FTO—the Fat Gene

Overweight woman in tight clothes at home is trying to fit into tight jeans.

This one is much easier named as the Fat mass To Obesity associated gene or better known as the Fat Gene. FTO regulates ghrelin levels through methylation (adding a methylated group to ghrelin). The more methylated ghrelin becomes, the more active the appetite. A single A allele increases risks for obesity and metabolic syndrome (increased hunger and decreases satiety) by 1.3 times whereas an AA double increases the risks 1.6 times. A alleles prefer salt and meat typically in the diet, increased C-reactive protein (inflammatory marker in the blood) and a much greatly increased difficulty feeling full after meals.


MC4R—Emotional Eater Gene

woman eating brownie cake with whipped cream

Melanocortin-4 receptor gene (MC4R) is an important regulator of energy balance, food intake and body weight in the hypothalamus, the core of the brain. The MC4R is our "Emotional Eater" gene. It interacts with dopamine (our pleasure hormone) and serotonin (mood) pathways resulting in emotional eating behaviors. It is primarily located in the hunger center of the brain. C and T are the two alleles with this marker. The C allele results in dysfunction of the balance of the body whereas the T allele presents with better overall balance and control of the body. Snacking and overeating are common risks with the C allele and resultant decreases in the brain response to leptin.

RELATED: Daily Habits You Must Follow If High Cholesterol Runs In Your Family



belly fat

This gene is the Leptin Receptor gene. Leptin, which you may have heard of, is released by fat cells to indicate they are filling with fat. As the fat cells grow they release more and more leptin. The increased leptin normally triggers the brain to decrease hunger and produce a feeling of fullness or satiety. If we have the G allele or the GG combination of alleles we tend to become Leptin resistant. The resistance to leptin in the brain increases risks for obesity, snacking behaviors and insulin resistance. Basically diabetes in the brain. The A alleles exhibit normal responses to leptin increases.


SLCA2—Sweet Tooth Gene

woman taking a bite of chocolate and enjoying her dessert

The SLCA2 or our sweet tooth gene is associated with higher sugar intake in the diet hence the code name The Sweet Tooth Gene. It works on sensing glucose in the brain which triggers satiety and appetite control. There are two alleles the A and the G types. The A allele is the one that has an increased intake of more sugary foods and sweets along with lack of control over the choice to stop. The G allele shows better control over the intake of sugary foods and better satiation with eating. The AA or AG combination of alleles are the ones that show the overall lack of control with sweets.

RELATED: Things That Put You at Risk for "Too High" Blood Sugar, Says Physician


TAS2R38 — Cookie Jar Gene

woman trying to sense smell of half fresh orange, has symptoms of Covid-19

The TAS2R38, our taster/non-taster receptor gene, contributes to our ability to recognize bitter tastes. The G allele, and especially the GG combination, experiences immense bitter taste. You really taste the bitterness in vegetables and do not like those bitter greens like kale, broccoli, radicchio and other bitter vegetables. Which results in strong sugar appetite control. The A alleles have higher affinity to the sugar activating more sugar intake and less control. So if you are a "cookie jar" monster then you probably have this gene variant.


The Last Word From Doctor


As a physician who uses genetics and epigenetics in my clinic the genetic reports give us a guidebook and a potential reason you may have some issues with weight loss or chronic health related issues related to your lifestyle. While genetic testing and epigenetic reporting are a "be all/do all" answer to your health they do allow us to look and decide how to plan a more unique approach to your health care and optimization. Remember that "genes load the weapon but your environment pulls the trigger" is key to understanding that we can override genetic "faults" with the proper, unique to you lifestyle medicine: what we eat, how we rest, how we exercise and what supplements to take. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Dr. Jerry Bailey
Dr. Jerry Bailey, BAA, DC, CAc, FIAMA, MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, is a certified nutritionist, acupuncturist, chiropractic, and functional medicine physician at Lakeside Holistic Health with over two decades in his field. Read more about Dr. Jerry
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