As Sylvia Tara writes in ‘The Secret Life of Fat’ – Being Fat is considered a personal failing – an effect of the lack of will power, for eating too much and being too large to exercise and burn off those excess calories.
Fortunately we do not need to blame ourselves as research has clearly shown the many ways that our genes, that determine everything from the calour of eyes to our height, our talents, even our moods, also influence our becoming fat and how such fat is distributed around our body.
It is such genes that allow some people to eat what seems an unhealthy diet and yet remain slim while others on a similar diet just produce more fat and become obese. Perhaps because evolutionary selection had led them to possess ‘thrifty’ genes that enabled them to live through famines by increasing their metabolism and by storing as much energy as possible as fat. In modern times of plenty, such gene are more a liability anticipating a famine that never comes.
Dr Claude Bouchard at the Pennington Bio Medical Research Centre, studied obesity and determines that our propensity to gain fat and where the body stores it, are influenced by genetics. He looked at body weight, lean mass and fat distribution and found performing vigorous exercise genetics didn’t matter as much in controlling obesity. His definition of ‘Vigorous’ was any exercise that caused metabolism to increase by 6 times or more over resting metabolism, which can be achieved by running at about 6 to 10 kmph, or cycling at about 20 to 25 kmph, or doing other activities that produce rapid breathing and sweat within a few minutes.