No one would have thought before now that the year of birth has anything to do with the chances of an individual developing obesity, but scientists have now come up with research proofs that indicate that the chances of becoming obese has a lot to do with the year an individual is born – this is different from obesity factors that people are used to.
The enlightened public has always believed that excessive eating habits, lifestyles, and even genetic dispositions determine the possibility of an individual becoming obese. These factors among others remain true as causing obesity, but where a particular gene as been identified as contributory to obesity largely depends on the individual’s year of birth.
What this means is that the capability of a gene, for instance a variant of the FTO gene, to impact obesity depends on the year of birth of an individual. Researchers now believe that the association between this gene variant and an individual’s body mass index (BMI) gets stronger as the year of birth progresses.
According to James Niels Rosenquist of the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) “Looking at the participants in the Framingham Heart Study, 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.” He went further to expatiate that “These results – to our knowledge the first of their kind – suggest that this and perhaps other correlations between gene variants and physical traits may vary significantly depending on when individuals were born, even for those born into the same families.”
The scientists discovered that no association was found between the obesity-risk gene variant and the body mass index of people born before 1942; but the correlation was twice as strong for people born after 1942. Comparing previous studies with the results obtained for birth year-related obesity, the researchers found that the genes interacted with environmental factors for those born within a certain span of years.
“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,” said Rosenquist.
Furthermore, the researchers note that lack of physical labor, increased consumption of high-calorie processed food, reliance on technology, and other post-World War II factors have made people more susceptible to ailments like obesity among others.