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Genetic risk for obesity influenced by lifestyle, study says

Physical activity levels and socioeconomic status were found to have a significant effect on genetic factors for obesity.

By Amy Wallace
Genetic risk for obesity influenced by lifestyle, study says
A new study found that lifestyle factors can influence a person's genetic risk for obesity. Photo by Tiago Zr/Shutterstock

Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A new study by Uppsala University found that the genetic risk for developing obesity can be influenced by lifestyle and is not necessarily predetermined.

"The results of our study clearly show that the environment and the lifestyle interact with the genes," Mathias Rask-Andersen, researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University, said in a press release.

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Researchers studied whether genetic effects for obesity are influenced by lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, physical activity, socioeconomic status and alcohol consumption.

The study, published Tuesday in PLOS Genetics, suggests that people can influence their genetic risk for obesity by changing lifestyle factors and that a person with a strong predisposition for obesity could reduce their risk by changing their diet and exercise routine.

The researchers found that genetic risk for obesity was higher in participants with a lower socioeconomic status compared to those with a higher socioeconomic status. The study also showed genetic effects for obesity were lower for individuals who consumed alcohol more frequently.

"There could be related factors that we do not have information about, which are the real causes of our results," Rask-Andersen said. "It is therefore important to follow up on our results with more controlled studies to determine cause and effect."

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