Genetically Obese Individuals Need More Exercise to Prevent Obesity!

Genetically Obese Individuals Need More Exercise
Genetically Obese Individuals Need More Exercise. Credit | Shutterstock

United States: Genetically obese persons need to put more effort into working out than those of moderate or low genetic risk in order to keep off obesity by virtue of a Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) study paper that was published in JAMA Network Open.

More about the research

Researchers employed data on the level of physical activity and clinical and genetic data from the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program as tools for analyzing correlations between patients’ genetic risk of obesity and exercise needs to prevent obesity incidents.

Douglas Ruderfer, the senior author, PhD., associate professor of Medicine, Division of Genetic Medicine, and director of the Center for Digital Genomic Medicine at VUMC, said, “Physical activity guidelines do not account for individual differences,” and “Genetic background contributes to the amount of physical activity needed to mitigate obesity. The higher the genetic risk, the more steps needed per day,” as reported.

Further added, “I think an important component to this result is that individuals can be active enough to account for their genetic background, or their genetic risk for obesity, regardless of how high that risk might be,” and, “And there are many other contributors that play a role including diet and environmental factors.”

How was the study conducted?

In the course of this research study, 3,124 middle-aged individuals without obesity who owned Fitbit device took part.

In this concrete study, between the initial period and the study interval, the incidence of obesity increased approximately by 30% in each of the lowest and the highest polygenic risk score groups.

Included in the study were 3,124 middle-aged participants without obesity who owned a Fitbit device and walked an average of 8,326 steps per day for a median of more than 5 years.

Findings of the study

The prevalence of obesity over the period of time grew from 13 percent to 43 percent in the lowest and highest polygenic risk score groups.

Individuals with a score in the 75 percentile for polygenic factors would need to walk an average of 2280 steps more per day(totally 11020 steps per day) as compared to individuals with a score in the 50 percentile to have a comparable risk of obesity, according to the study, as reported.

Persons with a relative BMI of 22, 24, 26 and 28 who were at 75th percentile of polygenic score would have to walk extra 3,460, 4,430, 5,380 and 6,350 steps to have a similar risk of obesity as persons who at 25th percentile.

Evan Brittain, the lead author and, MD, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at VUMC and lead investigator in Digital Health for the All of Us Research Program Data and Research Center said, “I think it is intuitive that individuals who have a higher genetic risk of obesity might need to have more physical activity to reduce that risk, but what is new and important from this study is that we were able to put a number on the amount of activity needed to reduce the risk.”

Moreover, he added, “It is becoming more commonplace to know you have a genetic risk for obesity in the genomic era when genetic results are being returned directly to patients. And you can imagine a future in which that data could be integrated with someone’s electronic health record and could form the basis of an individual’s physical activity recommendation from their doctor.”

Study authors said that next, they would like to see if the findings hold true for a broader population, including one that is more diverse and representative, in order to determine whether giving personalized recommendations for activity leads to better health and a lower risk of obesity or not.