SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Predisposition to Obesity
By Rob Holston


March 08, 2006

Predisposition to obesity is often a misunderstood or misused phrase when it comes to healthcare. Because obesity is a growing (no pun intended) health concern in America over the past 20+ years, it demands discussion and understanding. Family traits can offer us some great insight into health conditions that we might be confronted with in our future. Many times, however, it seems folks use a "diagnosed" predisposition as an excuse instead of an incentive. "My mom was fat and my dad was too, so how can I help it. It's just the way I am." Instead of seeing predisposition as a sentence being imposed upon us, we should see it as a friendly warning sign that inspires us to adopt a lifestyle of right choices that will provide the best possible health and life expectancy.

This argument is multifaceted, but has two major components; nurture and nature. The basic question is, "If mom and dad were both obese and both had other family members who are or were, does that mean you, as their off-spring, have that predisposition?" The answer is "Maybe, possibly NO and only possibly Yes." Predisposition, as viewed scientifically, is linked only to nature, your genes, that's right, it's a DNA thing. How do we know that all of your family members who suffered from being overweight were eating a healthy diet, exercising daily and leading a stress free life? If they made all the healthy choices and still suffered from obesity then maybe it is a gene in your DNA, but chances are we don't know details of their pertinent personal habits, unless..

Unless we observe them and ask them and then it's still hard to know. Sneaking an abundance of harmful calories late at night, guzzling sodas instead of water or super-sizing their drive through lunch or dinner might not be easy for them to admit or easy for you to observe. Eating and drinking are kind of a personal things anyway. Unless you have your DNA analyzed and a "fat" gene identified (not likely to happen) it would be a safe bet to assume that God did not design you to be obese. If you are suffering from being overweight, your "predisposition" may actually be one of nurture, NOT nature. Eating and other lifestyle habits can be (or become) a "family trait" that has nothing to do with genetic predisposition.

Family traits are often linked to cultural ties that come with dietary implications such as German Sausage! Here in America, however our eating habits are more commonly influenced by advertising, as nearly every food choice available is represented up and down the isles of our local super market. A particular advertisement caught my eye recently. It was a meat lover's pizza with pepperoni, ham, bacon AND sausage and of course extra cheese and a cheese filled crust. It came delivered with three liters of your favorite soft drink! Although the advertisement listed four types of meat (variety is the spice of life), actually all four meats come from the same animal, pig. Is it a coincidence that America's waistlines have grown at the same time and in similar proportions as the pizza delivery and hog raising industries?

Perhaps your family tree has a "predisposition" for pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, French fries, ice cream, soft drinks and beer. If so, you do have the ability to abandon that life sentence of obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease and adopt a sensible diet rich in fiber, grains, fruits, veggies and water.

Here is one dietary hint to help you if you or a loved one suffers from too much weight. According to the International Journal of Obesity, "Dietary fiber has proved beyond all doubt to be of value in the management of overweight, in helping weight loss and in shrinking hunger feelings." That is a good reason not to skip breakfast, even if that is a family trait. Remember to eat your fruits, fish and veggies and choose meats that are organic or free range and drink plenty of clean water. Help yourself and your family to win the fight against obesity by eating & drinking right and living an active lifestyle. This will help your family tree become a little thinner and become a whole lot healthier as you enjoy these family traits and pass them on to your children.


Contact Rob Holston at holston[at]

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