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Being Overweight - Choice or Genetics?

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Old 02-12-2013, 02:16 PM   #1
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Default Being Overweight - Choice or Genetics?

I've seen both sides of the argument and as an overweight person, I'd love to believe it was genetic, but I feel like its a choice. Here is why:

I've lost 80 pounds in the past. I started eating right and exercising. The weight came off and all was good. However, when I gained it back, it was because I started eating lots of junk food and not exercising. I think we all choose to be fat, whether it be out of ignorance or intent. For example:

Nobody has ever forced me to order a 21oz steak, loaded mashed potatoes, 2 sodas, and finish it in one sitting. Nobody forced me to eat an 800 calorie Market Fresh sandwich from Arby's. Nobody forced me to sit on the couch eating chips and dip while watching the game on TV.

Those were all choices that I made that played a role in weight gain and I made those type of choices on a daily basis. On the other hand, as far as ignorance goes:

I had no idea that high fructose corn syrup is in almost all junk food and fast food, and has been linked to weight gain and obesity. I had no idea what MSG does to increase weight gain. I had no idea that you don't have to consume meat in order to get protein.

I'm overweight, not stupid. I've never seen a person with healthy eating habits and regular exercise put on a ton of weight. I honestly think that the whole idea that being big is genetic is a ploy to sell more surgeries, more pills, more weight loss programs, and more books.

Just look at history. Being fat was so uncommon that fat people were usually rich or some type of royalty. Now suddenly, its considered genetic because it has become an epidemic? Its just my personal opinion, but I think its more of an excuse than an actual fact.

When I see an overweight person who eats healthy and exercises on a regular basis gain more weight by doing so, then I'll believe that is genetic, but if you're stuffing your face with cookies, chips, and soda, I refuse to believe that its genetic. What do you guys think?
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:21 PM   #2
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I'm not a big fan of genetics, but I do know that many people grow up learning unhealthy behaviours in their home environment. When I moved out at 17, I really did think a can of campbell's mushroom soup was enough vegetables and calcium for a day. My parents never taught me otherwise. I hope my boys will know better, even if they don't eat what I make
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:22 PM   #3
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I think it's mostly choice, but genetics does play a part in it. How you were brought up also plays a huge role. I was brought up in a house that always had junk food. I have a morbidly obese mother who did always make well balanced, semi healthy meals everyday, but always kept pop, chips, chocolate, etc in the house.
I picked up a lot of bad habits in my childhood, habits which I still haven't broken, even after years of trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
I don't know the science behind it, but I do believe that genetics does have a little something to do with it...but I'd say it's probably at least 90% choice and upbringing.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:26 PM   #4
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I think it can be both. I agree with your point that, with the exception of rare endocrine disorders that truly prevent weight loss and promote weight gain (a recent study pointed to 10 to 15 out of every million Americans being affected by that type), you don't see people who eat healthy and exercise continue to gain weight. On the flip side of that though, I know several people who eat horribly, never exercise, and don't gain any weight. I think some people are more genetically gifted than others. Some people have a higher propensity to gain weight as well as a higher likelihood of becoming "food addicted". Ultimately I think your genetic make-up combined with your lifestyle determine your weight and the reality is that some people have to work a lot harder than others to lose and/or maintain.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by PinkLotus View Post
I think it's mostly choice, but genetics does play a part in it. How you were brought up also plays a huge role. I was brought up in a house that always had junk food. I have a morbidly obese mother who did always make well balanced, semi healthy meals everyday, but always kept pop, chips, chocolate, etc in the house.
I picked up a lot of bad habits in my childhood, habits which I still haven't broken, even after years of trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
I don't know the science behind it, but I do believe that genetics does have a little something to do with it...but I'd say it's probably at least 90% choice and upbringing.
I believe that how someone is brought up plays a role, but that's not exactly genetics. That's learned behavior like writing or riding a bike.

I'm the only overweight person in my immediate family. My mom and grandfather didn't grow up with all the fast food options we have today. My grandparents didn't keep a lot of junk food in the house. Meals were cooked 6 out of 7 days. Sunday's we would all usually go to the buffet, but eating fast food was very rare.

When I lived with my mom, fast food and junk food became more the norm. I don't think my mom is overweight, but she seems to think she is. I know I am, but it seems to be as you said, the environment in which we are brought up. If I was brought up a generation earlier, I might not be overweight.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:33 PM   #6
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I never said how you were brought up is genetics. I said genetics plays a part AND so does upbringing.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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Choice and environment, for most people its no where near genetic, thats a cop out. I grew up around fat ppl and learned to be fat, I moved out and still made those food choices for a few years until I slowly started to make better choices and then chose a lifestyle change that has led me to lose a lot of the weight. If it was my genetics ie my parents and grandparents are fat so im fat, then how was I able to lose the weight just by cutting calories and moving a bit more? Its environment and choice. Its your responsibility and your parents while youre younger.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:40 PM   #8
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I think genetic or not most people have a fair shot at achieving a weight that is healthy and sustainable for them, but for many that process will involve undoing everything they know about portions, nutrition and the like - and only a very lucky few will experience a painless, linear weight loss journey.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkLotus View Post
I never said how you were brought up is genetics. I said genetics plays a part AND so does upbringing.
I thought that's what you meant, but wasn't 100% sure. Didn't mean to come off sounding like an ***. It wasn't meant that way.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:42 PM   #10
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Genetics undoubtedly plays a part in where your fat is distributed. I have a fat neck and fat belly thanks to my body structure but my arms and legs are relatively small for someone my size. As far as genetics actually making you fat, I doubt someone whose diet consisted of vegetables and fruits would become obese regardless of genetic predisposition. So, I'm definitely on the nurture side.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:42 PM   #11
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Genetics are definitely part of it. I can see it with my kids - they are in the SAME household. With the SAME rules for eating. Actually, we have better food choices and movement choices now, but I see what my kids are drawn to for foods.

My 16 year old son: He's always been thin. He likes sweets, OK, but he'll stop eating in the middle of a cookie if he's had enough. He loves salads and asks for them for dinner. He prefers healthy foods over unhealthy foods. Given a CHOICE between a fast food burger and a nice salad with grilled salmon - he'll take the salmon.

He doesn't really care for whipped cream or 'fat'. He never overeats.

Basically - he eats JUST like his father.

My younger son is fine, but I can see he will have the tendency to gain weight. He loves cream and fatty foods. Given a choice between a fast food meal and a healthy meal, he'll choose the fast food 100 times over the healthy food. He will stop eating when he's not hungry, but what he's drawn to is always the 'heavy foods'

They have been this way since infanthood. Did they learn that? or is it how they are programmed?

THEN... our genetics play into our brain chemicals. I know NOW that I have issues with simple carbs/grains/etc. That eating them makes me want to eat MORE of them. I don't get the same way with protein rich or lower carb foods. When I eat lower carb diet, I feel I have control over my body. When I eat too many carbs, I feel the food has control over me.

My husband doesn't have that issue. he can eat all the carbs he wants and won't start craving them. If anything, he'll be, "I need to eat something green." Not me! I'm scouring the pantry for another sugar fix.

We can WORK WITH our genetics, but they do play a part in how we react to the choices we make.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
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I thought that's what you meant, but wasn't 100% sure. Didn't mean to come off sounding like an ***. It wasn't meant that way.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krampus View Post
I think genetic or not most people have a fair shot at achieving a weight that is healthy and sustainable for them, but for many that process will involve undoing everything they know about portions, nutrition and the like - and only a very lucky few will experience a painless, linear weight loss journey.
I agree.


For me it was 100% choice!
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:11 PM   #14
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I don't think there are really that many "naturally thin" people who can truly eat large quantities of highly caloric food and stay slim. But I do think there are people whose natural inclination is to eat more sparingly, so they stay slim without it being a big effort.

And I also think that there are people who are more naturally disposed to like calorie dense foods, and who need to eat a lot to feel satisfied (or in some cases, the switches that register that don't work very well).

I do believe that even the latter group *can* lose weight - but not easily and often, the time and effort of doing so can be so overwhelming that it starts to feel insurmountable.

But yes, to a certain extent, I think where you fall into one of those two groups, or somewhere in between, some of that really does come down to genetics. How your genes get expressed can be environmental, but there are still genetic building blocks there in the first place.

Personally, I think I'm in between those two extremes. It's not all that hard for me to lose weight, if I stick with it. I am just lazy and find it easier to revert to old habits of not being active enough and making unhealthy food choices because they are quick and easy and taste good. But I am hoping to push through that inclination this time, and finally stick with it once and for all.
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:18 PM   #15
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Genetics just may be another hurdle you have to jump; for most people it isn't a life sentence. There is a genetic predisposition in one side of my family, towards heaviness. I say genetic because I've seen first hand some very disciplined people do everything "right", and still always be carrying at least 30 extra pounds.

That being said - 30 extra pounds is a heck of a lot different than the 230 extra I ended up carrying. Did my genes figure into it? Probably. Did emotional and mental health issues that run in my family lead me and my father and a lot of my relatives to binging? Even more likely. But at the end of the day, bad food choices and lack of activity got me here, and my genetics are a minor hill to climb.
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