Is It All In The Genes?

With obesity at epidemic proportions, partly due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, it’s no wonder the diet and fitness industry is growing by leaps and bounds. It seems that there are new diets coming out almost every day; one of the latest is based on your gene and body type.

Media To Blame?

The media focus on dieting, combined with a person’s genuine weight issues, can lead to distorted eating patterns in vulnerable young girls. With society pressure to be super-thin, it’s no wonder that many people feel the need to diet, even when they are at a perfectly healthy weight. This may be why there has been a rise in recent years of people suffering from anorexia and bulimia, as well as people binging or comfort eating when depressed.

Genetic Factors

However there are genetic factors involved. Recent research indicates that genes can be a major factor in almost 50-80% of the cases where someone develops either anorexia or bulimia. Obesity can also be hereditary. Environmental factors including family eating and behavior patterns also need to be taken in to account. A recent study by Minnesota University shows that eating five or more meals a week together as a family helps to protect teens against eating disorders.

Link To Depression?

Research shows that people with eating disorders, especially anorexia and bulimia, were more likely to be perfectionist types, suffering anxiety about mistakes and doubts about actions. There is also a link between anorexia and major depression. Sufferers may therefore respond well to cognitive behavior therapy. Obese people often also suffer from depression as they may see no way of getting control of their weight, no matter how hard they diet.

Ideal Body Type?

With the media obsession over the appearance and weight of super models and actresses, and girls wanting to be like their heroines, it’s not surprising that problems develop. In the past, the ideal body shape was considered to be much more curvy and vivacious, like that of Marilyn Monroe, whereas today ultra-slim super models like Kate Moss are admired. This can encourage people to diet unnecessarily and may trigger anorexia or bulimia in susceptible individuals.

Having A Healthy Lifestyle

Just as some people have a genetic pre-disposition to anorexia, bulimia and obesity there are others whose genes let them stay slim. However having a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a normal BMI (body mass index) and weight/height ratio is important for everyone. We all need to eat a varied healthy diet, avoid fast food, and take regular exercise, even those of us lucky enough to be blessed with genes that make us less likely to put on weight.

As scientists learn more about how our genes work, they will be able to develop new treatments for those suffering from eating disorders and obesity, enabling us all to live healthier lives.

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