Researchers are now suggesting that the year of a person’s birth is related to his obesity risk. People born before 1942, it was found during in a study, were less likely to be affected by obesity as compared to those born after the watershed period. The risk increases progressively as does the number of years.
“We found that the correlation between the best known obesity-associated gene variant and body mass index increased significantly as the year of birth of participants increased,” said lead author James Niels Rosenquist from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in a press release.
Data collected from the participants of the Framingham Offspring Study and their children between 1971 and 2008 was carefully studied by researchers before arriving at this conclusion. The participants of the aforementioned study were between 27 to 63 years of age. Those conducting the study also took into account the height of the participants, their body mass index (BMI) and the gene variants inherited by them.
Though they failed to establish a correlation between obesity risk variant and BMI for those born before 1942, those born after this year were seen to be twice as susceptible to obesity. Authors also pointed out that this could be due to the huge improvement on the technology frontand the easy availability of high calorie processed food after the World War .
“We know that environment plays a huge role in the expression of genes, and the fact that our effect can be seen even among siblings born during different years implies that global environmental factors such as trends in food products and workplace activity, not just those found within families, may impact genetic traits,” Rosenquist said.
“Our results underscore the importance of interpreting any genetic studies with a grain of salt and leave open the possibility that new genetic risk factors may be seen in the future due to different genetically driven responses to our ever-changing environment,” he added.
The findings of the study which were published online in PNAS Early Edition on Monday are already raising big question marks over the role played by environmental factors in contributing towards obesity which is one of the major health hazards of our times.