We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Is There Such a Thing As Genetic Obesity?

By Ken Black
Updated Feb 03, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A number of studies, including those conducted by researchers at Boston University and Harvard Medical School, suggest there is such a thing as genetic obesity. The genetics involve not only influence the body mass index of an individual, but where fat deposits are likely to be stored. In some cases, it is the presence of certain genes that affect genetic obesity. In other cases, the absence of certain genes, or certain bits of information within the genes, may be the most important factors.

While scientists have long understood that genetic obesity does exist, the genetic components were originally thought to only influence a very few families. Studies in the first part of the 21st century have suggested those prone to obesity, especially childhood obesity, may be more widespread. The Boston University study in 2006 suggested that scientists have uncovered a genetic link that may be shared by as much as 10 percent of the European and African-American populations. That new information could lead to even more links being discovered in the future.

In the 2006 study, researchers also found a variant in at least one gene, Insig2, that is known to regulate fatty acids and cholesterol synthesis. A variant was also found in another gene, but the function of that gene has not yet been determined. Another study, published by Nature in 2010, suggested that deletions on a certain chromosome may provide an indication of genetic obesity, especially obesity that is severe and happens early in a person's life.

Other studies have also suggested that genetic obesity may not be the product of one or two genes, but rather a whole set of genes. If the right set is present, then obesity may be more likely to occur, especially in certain segments of the population. Researchers are still trying to map most of these genes, and determine which may be responsible for predisposing a person to obesity. Despite the need for continuing research, reports indicate enough of a relationship does exist that points to the existence of genetic obesity.

The presence of genetic obesity is very important as the medical community looks for new ways to combat the health problem. Knowing that a person has a certain genetic variation could lead to new treatment methods, such as medicines that help to counter that effect. In addition, the medical community could watch closely those who are prone to obesity to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, in an attempt to prevent poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Feb 06, 2015

@Fa5t3r - I've got much more of a problem with the word diet than the word fat. No one should diet. People should eat healthy food and exercise with the intention to be or become healthy and that's it. It's only when people have the goal of being thin that they start to harm themselves and that's what diets are about.

By Fa5t3r — On Feb 06, 2015

@MrsPramm - I don't think you're wrong in the majority of cases, but that's not to say that there aren't people who would be fat in any but the most extreme circumstances, because of their genetic makeup. To use the red-hair analogy, a red-headed person might end up with white hair from stress, but under most circumstances they are going to keep their red hair (barring artificial changes of course).

What troubles me more is the fact that it's so widely accepted that fat is automatically bad. Most studies seem to point to dieting as being more of a health concern than fat itself and the fact that they are so very closely related it's difficult to find one person who is fat but has never been on a diet, is troubling.

If there is a genuine form of genetic obesity, then our culture forcing people into extreme diet and exercise routines to fit an unobtainable norm is basically far more harmful than fat itself.

By MrsPramm — On Feb 05, 2015

I actually think what needs to be done is to rethink the term obesity. That's a symptom, rather than a condition. People aren't going to be genetically prone to obesity, per sec, but they will be genetically prone to storing more fat or storing it in particular places, or being more vulnerable to sugar addiction or whatever.

In certain circumstances, that does mean that people might be genetically inclined to be obese when put in particular circumstances. But it's not the same as a person being a genetic red-head, for example. Fat storage just has too many factors to be the result of a single genetic impetus, and treating it as though it has a simple cause and effect mechanism is what is leading to so many problems.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.