Lifestyle and Intervention Tips for People Genetically Predisposed to Obesity

Genetically predisposed obesity thus requires particular treatment to address mutations or hormonal imbalances.
More than one billion people around the globe struggle with obesity. Unsplash
More than one billion people around the globe struggle with obesity. Unsplash

Obesity is a growing epidemic worldwide. This has raised concerns from various medical experts who stress that obesity is a complex disease with biological mechanisms that are often ignored. Research in StatPearls shows that specific individuals can possess genetic susceptibility to fat accumulation, wherein the body processes hunger and metabolism in different ways. Genetically predisposed obesity thus requires particular treatment to address mutations or hormonal imbalances. This article reviews a few lifestyle and intervention tips that can help. 

Examining obesity

More than one billion people around the globe struggle with obesity. Scientists have recently discovered that fructose may be the primary driver of obesity. Fructose is present in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup but can also be made in the body from carbohydrates such as glucose. When fructose is metabolized, it lowers the body's active energy, causing hunger and increasing food intake.

While this theory still requires more work, it's evident that genetics, eating habits, and family history are factors that lead to the development of obesity. When you look at people who are overweight vs obese, you can see that obesity is an abnormal physiological process that changes how our bodies function, from tiny cells to large systems — compared to being overweight, which is still easier to manage. As such, patients struggling with obesity require evidence-backed approaches to cut weight down.

More than one billion people around the globe struggle with obesity. Scientists have recently discovered that fructose may be the primary driver of obesity. Fructose is present in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup but can also be made in the body from carbohydrates such as glucose. When fructose is metabolized, it lowers the body's active energy, causing hunger and increasing food intake.

While this theory still requires more work, it's evident that genetics, eating habits, and family history are factors that lead to the development of obesity. When you look at people who are overweight vs obese, you can see that obesity is an abnormal physiological process that changes

how our bodies function, from tiny cells to large systems — compared to being overweight, which is still easier to manage. As such, patients struggling with obesity require evidence-backed approaches to cut weight down.

Medical weight loss interventions

Regular weight gain can typically be addressed solely through lifestyle changes. However, genetically predisposed obesity often requires an interprofessional team to evaluate and treat patients. The research in StatPearls explains that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two drugs that target patients with genetic causes of obesity. These are metreleptin and bremelanotide, with the former used to treat leptin-deficient patients with mutations in the leptin gene and the latter used in obese patients with genetic mutations in POMC, PCSK1, or LEPR genes and Bardet Biedl syndrome. 

Otherwise, more drugs like semaglutide, liraglutide, phentermine-topiramate, and naltrexone-bupropion are approved for chronic weight loss in the general population. They may be used for medical weight loss interventions in patients with genetic obesity. Liraglutide, for example, improves metabolic functions by helping the pancreas release insulin correctly, whereas naltrexone-bupropion helps to reduce appetite by producing a more significant increase in POMC activity. 

You should consult with a medical expert to determine which drug, if any, may be right for you. When this medication is paired with a lifestyle program, weight loss can improve from 5% to 15%. 

Lifestyle changes to consider

Medications help level the playing field for people whose biology makes losing weight more challenging. However, they can’t make you eat healthier, move more, or shift your mindset. 

That is why the medical community's consensus is that lifestyle factors — such as food, activity, sleep, and mindset — form the foundation for any weight-loss treatment. A lifestyle intervention published in 2020 found that a combination of daily physical activity, calorie-restricted diet, and behavioral therapy resulted in a mean decrease of −8.7kg in the body weight of children with genetically predisposed obesity. Meanwhile, a 2020 study in Frontiers cited an analysis of 20,000 men demonstrating how a physically active lifestyle reduces 40% of the genetic predisposition for obesity. 

You can start making small but sustainable lifestyle changes, such as cooking meals at home and tracking your food intake through a food diary. You can also consult a certified fitness coach trained to understand how chronic illnesses tie in with exercise and consider a client's genetic predisposition to weight gain before crafting any fitness routine. This will help you achieve your weight loss goals and prevent injury.  

Psychological and psychiatric interventions

Obesity, whether genetically predisposed or not, can be a mentally stressful condition. A tremendous body of evidence shows that psychopathologic factors contribute extensively to the development and maintenance of obesity. The condition displays complex associations with mood disorders and affective temperamental dimensions, eating disorders, emotional dysregulation, and motivational–addictive disturbances.

The bidirectional nature between obesity and psychopathology suggests that individuals can benefit from psychological and psychiatric interventions, from pharmacotherapy to psychotherapy. Joining proprietary supportive therapy can help individuals with genetically predisposed obesity better accept their bodies, strengthen their egos, and regulate their emotions. Group therapy can also help by providing a support group of individuals who understand each other’s struggles with managing obesity. 

Other anti-obesity therapies and interventions are continuously being developed in accordance with the growing body of knowledge on genetic obesity traits. With the proper treatment, individuals can overcome their genetic predisposition to obesity and enjoy a higher quality of life. 

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