Monday, February 13, 2012

Genetics Being a Cause to Obesity and Other Diseases

Genetics Being a Cause to Obesity and Other Diseases
            Many people see the appearance of one and assume that since they do not look strictly like the society “norm”, that they must have no care about what they look like. Many people follow what their eyes tell them and are quick to judge others. What people do not know is that an overweight person can be struggling with the genes that their parents gave them. Some people argue that most obese sit around and watch SNL with a tub of Oreo Ben and Jerry’s, and one might think, “they must eat twice their weight”, but that is not the case.  Studies have shown that lack of certain genes along many other factors such as low/high thyroid and Type 2 diabetes can be a leading cause of obesity. There are certain cases that people do choose to eat unhealthy and their weight reflects that, but it is a different story for the people that simply can’t help what the scale reads them.
Photo by Fat Fighter TV
             First, I want to clarify the actual definition of obesity since many people get confused on what actually classifies as obese. Obesity is, "The state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20 percent over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build" Obesity is a significant cause to health problems. Some people joke that they are obese and they most likely are not. In the chart below it gives you a clear model of how you can tell if you are obese or not. There are many doctors and nutritionists that one can talk to if they believe they are overweight. Obesity is a serious medical condition that can take years off your life and talking to a doctor could possibly save your life. It increases the risk of developing a number of diseases including, “Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, cancer (cancer of the prostate and cancer of the colon and rectum), gallstones, gout and gouty arthritis, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and pick-wickian syndrome”. Sometimes these diseases can be life- threatening and obesity being the cause is a serious epidemic.
Photo by Health Ruby
          Even though some humans can cause themselves to be obese, the real cause of obesity could lay in the genes that you inherit from your parents:
“Although our high-calorie, sedentary lifestyle contributes to the approximately 10-pound average weight gain of Americans compared to the recent past some people are more severely affected by this lifestyle than others, That’s because they have inherited genes that increase their predisposition for accumulating body fat”
Obesity can lead to many other health problems and genes are the ones that people should blame. After observing my family history, one relative after another has been obese and most people would assume “They are Italian, so they must eat a lot”, and this is not the case. “In 2003, Lowe (25) reported that people with genetic predisposition to obesity have difficulty self-regulating food intake to maintain weight loss or prevent weight gain even if they had extensive education in how to do so”. This study comes to show that some people almost can’t help how much they eat if they follow in the path of predisposition to obesity. Obesity can be a cause to depression in humans also. People that can’t help the fact that they are obese have to deal with others staring out in public, and in high school. I have witnessed the bullying that kids encounter, and being a former high school student and it is very cruel. The stereotypical ‘jock’ usually won’t like them playing on their sport teams because of how competitive kids are these days. One may feel that the obese kid doesn’t have the same capability of a fit football player, so the obese kid may eventually give up sports and fall into depression.
          Photos by Planetizen
          Obesity is not the only health condition that can be caused by genetics. Since obesity leads to many diseases as mentioned previously, one major problem that people find is the linkage between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The definition of Type 2 diabetes is “a heterogeneous metabolic disorder, characterized by defects in both insulin secretion and insulin action, and its current prevalence of five to six prevent is projected to rise by approx. fifty percent in the next year, bringing the total of affected individuals worldwide close to 215 million” (Sanoudou and Mantzoros Chapt. 3). Since Type 2 diabetes relates to the defect in insulin, there have been studies and some may believe due to this information that there is a direct link to the cause of genetics and obesity. “ Leptin deficiency leads to insulin resistance and diabetes, which may be corrected by the administration ofr-metHuLeptin (181). Leptin secretion is also influenced by several factors that increase with obesity and induce insulin resistance” (Sanoudou and Mantzoros Chapt. 3). What is Leptin? Leptin is “A hormone that has a central role in fat metabolism. Leptin was originally thought to be a signal to lose weight but it may, instead, be a signal to the brain that there is fat on the body". Researchers have found certain genes can actually effect how someone will look when they get older. There was a blog I read that I found so unbelievably outrageous that genes or lack or a gene in this case can affect someone so much.  In the blog was a story about a boy that had a leptin deficiency:
“He had a mutation in a critical gene, the one that produces the hormone leptin. Leptin is made by fat tissue and sends a signal informing the brain that there are adequate stores of energy. Because of a genetic error, the boy cold not make this hormone, which left him at age 4 weighing 90 pounds. After a few Leptin injections, the weight had dropped into the normal range”. 
What I also found remarking is that in this blog it states that his 8-year-old cousin has the same generic error and at age 8 he weighed 200 pounds. I found this story to be remarkably amazing that with the right technology, they could fix the genetic error. This proves that obesity is linked to gene malfunctions and in another story I found, “Two severely obese children whose parents have a leptin deficiency were nearly the same weight at the age of 8 weighing 189 pounds” (Coulston Rock and Monsen 187). This goes to show that the lack of Leptin was transferred from the parents to both of their kids causing severe obesity at a young age.
Photo by Hot104fm
            Type 2 diabetes is a serious epidemic recently involving genetics and the relationships show that obesity is one of the causes. “…genetic factors clearly play a role in underlying susceptibility to the disease of Type 2 Diabetes. Evidence for this comes from several sources: differences in disease prevalence between ethnic groups, segregation of the disease within families, and twin studies” (Brigelius-Flohe and Joost 223). Studies have shown that Type 2 Diabetes can result after obesity and genetics play a huge factor in that. I have experience within my family history that Type 2 Diabetes is genetically related because I have over five family members that suffer from it. I have personally had a doctor tell me that I need to watch what I eat, and stay under a healthy weight since Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family. Also, a doctor has told my mom that if she were to loose weight, her Type 2 Diabetes would get better. This goes to show that Type 2 diabetes has a direct link with obesity.
            Facts and studies show that obesity leads to diabetes, and vise versa, and there is another health condition that relates to genetics called Low/High Thyroid. Again, I personally have experience within my family with low thyroid and this shows it can be caused by genetics. The genes that you receive from your parents shape what you will grow to be. I found a great example that shows how genes cause thyroid hormones to go off track:
“It's kind of like building a car. These genes work together like factory workers on an assembly line. Each worker adds a piece until at the end, you have a car. Imagine halfway through that someone doesn't put on the wheels. Then it won't matter if everyone else does everything right, the car still won't go. Same with the genes to make a thyroid. Or thyroid hormone. If the wheels don't go on, you don't make enough thyroid hormone and you end up with hypothyroidism." 
This relates to the genes that your parents give you and if they have a malfunction in their thyroid hormone, you possibly could have one too. I personally have low thyroid along with my mother and grandpa, and some symptoms of low thyroid are, “memory problems, depression, sleepiness, fatigue, weakness, hair loss, and WEIGHT GAIN”. Being said, the symptoms show that there is a relationship between low thyroid and obesity.
            Another gene that scientists have found to effect weight is the KL gene explained in a blog about the Target for Obesity In this blog the scientists from Harvard did an experiment dealing with mice. During the experiment they put two mice on an unhealthy diet. They gave one of the mice the KL gene and they left the other without it. The KL gene encodes with a certain protein called 'Klotho'. They found that the mice able to produce the 'Klotho' Protein were much more overweight and had other health problems rather than the mice lacking the protein. The mice lacking the protein stayed lean even on the poor diet.
Photo by Google Images
This is another example that goes to show that there are certain genes that can make someone more prone to obesity than others and they can pass down from parent to child.
            Overall, studies have come to show that obesity can lead to many diseases. Genetic errors can change someone’s life, and if researchers and scientists do more studies about genetics being related to obesity then people may be able to get a cure. There are some cases where obesity is not related but there are many stories and facts that provide relevant reassurance that obesity is caused by genetics. My blog proves facts that one thing leads to another since obesity leads to diabetes and thyroid problems. There are many things you can do to stay healthy and live a long lifestyle. If you feel that obesity runs in your family then go see a doctor about possible gene malfunctions and see if there is anything they can do to help you. 

Work Cited
Coulston, Ann M. M., Cheryl Rock, and Elaine R Monsen. Nutrition In The
     Prevention and Treatment of Disease. San Diego: n.p., 2001. Print.

Larsen, Reed P., Georg Hennemann, and Leslie J. DeGroot. The Thyroid and Its
     Diseases. New York: n.p., 1996. Print.

Mantzoros, Christos S, and Despina Sanoudou. Genetics of Obesity and Diabetes.
     Totowa: n.p., 2006. Print.