T Nation

Fat? Blame Your Genes

WASHINGTON (April 22) - Is midnight snacking keeping you up late at night and keeping you off your diet? A faulty gene may be to blame, researchers said on Thursday.

They found that mice with a mutation in a gene called “Clock” controlling circadian rhythms – a member of a class of genes called clock genes – develop symptoms similar to those seen in many overweight people, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and a tendency to gain weight.

Their findings, published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, suggests that a brain system that controls the cycles of sleep and waking may also help regulate appetite and metabolism.

Dr. Fred Turek and colleagues at Northwestern University in Illinois and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute found mice with a mutant version of the Clock gene tended to overeat, become overweight, and have high levels of blood glucose and cholesterol.

Their mutant mice were more active during times when rodents usually sleep. They had unusual levels of leptin and ghrelin, both hormones involved in appetite.

When fed a normal diet, they gained about as much weight as normal mice fed a high-fat diet. When they got fat-laden food, the mutant mice gained even more weight and showed metabolic irregularities.

“We don’t know too much about how clocks control eating and metabolism in normal individuals, but now we have shown that weight gain and abnormalities in metabolism, including diabetes, result if this internal timepiece is malfunctioning,” said Dr. Joseph Bass, an assistant professor of medicine and neurobiology at Northwestern.

“The body clock is clearly controlling the elaborate brain signaling system that regulates appetite.”

Other studies involving leptin and appetite in mice have not translated directly to humans, but the researchers said the findings were always useful in understanding human disease and biology.

“Is it possible that sleep loss or a change in circadian rhythms might exacerbate problems in regulating appetite?” Bass asked.

“It may be a question of not only how much you eat but what time of day you eat and how that affects the body. Are you eating at a time of day when your system is internally aligned to metabolize the food?”

04/21/05 19:18 ET

P.S. I have no opinion on this, just throwing it out for the crowd!

Gene or no gene… People can still take care of bad habits.

Instead of this turning into an informative article… it turns into an excuse for every lazy person who comes across it.

Nice find.

Bullshit. The very thought of my genes stopping me from loosing fat is what can potentially stop my progress. No such thing in my mind. Your body will achieve what your mind will percieve. Simple as that, although this takes practice. It’s no coincidence that Arnold as a little boy dreamed of having huge arms and a huge chest like his idol Reg Park, and through sheer will and a failure is never an option mentality he built them to be the best in the world. So did he have exceptional genes for muscle or mentality?

Lets remove their super-chiasmic nucleus and see what happens.

“No such thing” is as extreme a belief as subscribing to the idea that genes can keep a person from ever being in good shape. There is indeed such thing, the question is whether or not you have what it takes to overcome it or not. Whether this person or that one has it easier than you is what’s irrelevant. If losing fat or gaining muscle is genetically ten times harder for you than it is for the average person, that’s still no excuse. Work ten times harder. Suck it up, grow up, and accept that life isn’t fair.

But there’s no debating that genes play a role. You could develop Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis tomorrow and essentially have your thyroid gland be eaten away by your own immune system. The real question is, how will you respond? Will you be diligent about going to the doctor and tweaking your thyroid hormone medicine, all while working your ass off at the gym in order to compensate for your unfair condition, or will you head straight for the ice cream aisle and complain that you “have a glandular problem?” What happens to you is not within your power to change; how you respond to it is.

To me, this is the most interesting sentence:

An explanation on why two people can be virtually the same in every way, from diet, to body composition, to physical activity, yet one will gain fat, and the other will get/stay lean.

Seems to throw thermodynamics out the window… obviously it cannot, but it makes you wonder what the hell is going on with metabolism; and why fat loss is so frustrating for so many.

In the search to maintain the status quo and blame everything on something or someone else, science can find a genetic cause.

Article is fine except for the title. It should be:

“Bad Genes? You’re going to have to be extra careful about gaining weight.”