The thrifty gene was proposed as one reason why obesity and diabetes is becoming more prevalent. The gene is a throwback from when we were hunter-gathers and didn’t know where our next meal might come from. The ability to build up stores of fat to see us through the lean periods would be a distinct advantage to survival when there was nothing to eat.
According to an article from sciencenews.org last year the idea of returning to a diet similar to that of the hunter-gatherers of the past will not make us lose weight. They have described the ‘paleo-diet’ as a fad but they do acknowledge that “our bodies want to store fat”.
So the ‘thrifty gene’ no longer seems to be a suitable target for our blame but that is not to say that obesity is nothing to do with genetics.
Professor Greg Gibson (studying ‘Predictive Health Genomes’) believes that we can “enhance personalised medicine” by linking genes and their sequences and says that out of the 21,000 genes that make up a human’s DNA sequence there may be hundreds which could influence our body weight.
Basically it is not only the ‘thrifty gene’ that we need to worry about. It would seem that there is a lot more to be discovered about genetics and its links to obesity and diabetes.
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