How Do Genes Control Weight?
Our body weight is determined by the amount of energy or calories that we eat and the number of calories we burn up doing whatever we do in our everyday lives. Rather like these scales, if we eat more calories than we burn, we tip the balance the wrong way and put on weight.
In today’s world, we all have easy access to high fat and high calorie foods and many of us have a reduced need for physical exertion during our working and home lives. This can lead over a period of time to a gain in weight. So is it simply about eating too much food and taking too little exercise? And why do some people put on weight more easily than others?
We know that not everyone in the same environment will put on weight, so there must be something else involved? There is a lot of evidence to show that genes play a major role in determining our weight in the same way as they control the colour of our hair and eyes. We also know that weight problems can run in families.
Here in Cambridge, we have gone on to discover that sometimes being overweight from a very young age can be due to a faulty gene. This faulty gene may cause someone to always feel hungry, especially as a child. It may also affect the way calories are used up from the food we eat and cause excess calories to be stored as fat.
Find out more and learn about genes.