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Obesity Essays

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Obesity is a growing health issue infecting everyday life in the United States and many other countries across the globe. Obesity affects people from all backgrounds rich and poor, from urban cities to the rural countryside. The first solution that comes to many people’s mind when first addressing obesity would be to exercise more or eat healthier foods. These assessments can help a person struggling with their weight tremendously, but weight loss is not always directly related to better nutrition and exercise. In rare cases involving obesity, genetics can become involved and change a person’s body beyond weight gain or loss.

Obesity is often an overlooked topic in the United States and around the world. A large majority of the United States is considered to be obese and this is on an upward trend of becoming the norm. This struggle for control over one’s weight has created an entire fitness industry many have had success from. Although there has been a lot of success in the fitness industry partnered with combating obesity, it is not always as simple as physical exercise. Other issues that come into play are situations like overeating, binge eating, eating at the wrong time, and most importantly, genetics. There has been research that indicates genetics play a huge part in the fat cells and DNA in one’s body. The way your metabolism can adapt and react to certain nutrients is directly attributed to the individual genetic makeup of a person.

Obesity ranges from children to the elderly and is not specific to any one gender. Childhood obesity around the world is a growing epidemic and many simply put the blame on technology and children becoming less active throughout recent years. Solutions are hard to come by, but when it comes down to the makeup of each person, the human body reacts to the environment that it is placed in. Over a period of time, while the body reacts, DNA can change when a person is consistently exercising and eating properly. Just like when a person is not eating right or exercising, their body can react negatively toward the consumption. When an athlete is not eating how they should, they are less susceptible to gaining weight than those who do not exercise.

Whether obesity is genetic comes into the conversation when one gene mutates (Monogenic Obesity) rather than when multiple genes mutate (Common Obesity). These cases are very rare since only one gene is being activated. In most of Monogenic cases, the patient has a disability or another health issue developed alongside obesity. Scientists are now able to find the specific genes that can be edited to see just how much of factor genetics have in this epidemic. They have also proven that healthier lifestyles can change the outcome of people who have gene-related risks to obesity.

According to the Obesity Medicine Association, Obesity is defined as, “a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body.”. When a person develops a rare single-gene case or defect, they have very high levels of hunger or metabolism from an early age. The ability to test and find out if a person will have this rare single-gene disease is still not commonly practiced. The only valuable tests would be for the FTO gene, but every person alive has at least one FTO gene already among 20,00 others. There have now been more than fifty genes associated with obesity, causing genetics to have a larger association with the disease.

Our nutritional environment over the last half-century has become a rather large issue that most people unknowingly ignore. Psychologist Kelly D. Brownell has described this as a toxic environment. Referring to this new dietary atmosphere, she has explained it as exposure to food that is high in calories, cheap enough for most people, and very marketable. When you mix this ease of access to non-nutritional foods and lack of exercise, this is when you have a toxic dietary environment. With the rise of the fast food industry, all-you-can-eat buffets, and markets where companies produce unhealthy snacks targeted towards children, more people should know the impact of the foods they take in each day. Promoting health in these industries would decrease the likelihood of the majority of Americans becoming obese, even if they have a genetic tendency.

More so than just genetics, our society today has made it very easy for any person to become overweight. The way the world has modernized and made access to everything 10x easier, causes obesity rates to rise also. In the most common forms of obesity, the genes are mutated in large numbers instead of one or a handful. The current landscape revolving around obesity debunks the thought that it is genetic but even when it is, it is still very attainable to lose weight and live a normal life.

Gregor Mendel was the scientist who discovered the different types of traits that showed dominant and recessive expressions. Mendel has been named the Father of Genetics due to his extensive work and success in the field. He founded Mendel’s Laws of Heredity, The Law of Segregation, The Law of Independent Assortment, and The Law of Dominance. These laws explain that genes come in pairs and they show up in the offspring as dominant or recessive. Each trait in a person can be identified by a gene pair, the pair can then be separated into sex cells that only take one gene of the pair. The offspring then inherits one genetic allele from each parent when the sex cells form together.

When obesity comes into the topic of being inherited it begins to be harder to define. It is a complicated trait that is influenced by genetics, epigenetics, metagenomics, and environmental factors. The dominance of urbanization has greatly affected the cases of obesity, relating it directly to the environment. But within another environment, the cases are more personal and not as closely related to where someone is living, but how they are living. Urbanization brought irregular eating and exercise routines to many people around the world. Most cases of obesity that have been closely followed are more focused on how the person lives rather than the type of environment they live in.

Each individual’s genetic background is very important to determine how much more likely they are to become obese and how scientists and doctors can better research for each case. Having relatives that are obese does increase a person’s risk of obesity, even if they are not direct family or have the same routines. Each obesity gene does not make a significant difference in body weight, but over time the collection of genes, it can determine how an individual responds to the factors of their environment, diet, and physical activity.

References

  1. “Genes Are Not Destiny.” Obesity Prevention Source, 11 Apr. 2016, www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/genes-and-obesity/.
  2. NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/.
  3. “Obesity and Genetics.” Obesity Medicine Association, 12 July 2019, obesitymedicine.org/obesity-and-genetics/.
  4. Genetics Plays a Role in Obesity, obesity.ulaval.ca/obesity/generalities/genetic.php.
  5. “Concept 1Children Resemble Their Parents.” Mendel as the Father of Genetics :: DNA from the Beginning, www.dnaftb.org/1/bio.html.
  6. Thaker, Vidhu V. “GENETIC AND EPIGENETIC CAUSES OF OBESITY.” Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6226269/.
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