Genetic Cause of Obesity – How We Turn Genes on and Off


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We often talk about genetics as if it’s set in stone. For example, we use “you must have good genes” or “you are born with good looks” as common phrases. However, over the past decade, biochemists and geneticists discovered that your genetic expression changes over time. In modern times, gene specialists also question if there is a genetic cause of obesity.

Genetic Cause of Obesity

Based on environmental, cultural, or genetic factors, certain genes are strongly expressed while others are dormant. Genes also give us a lot of information about our food consumption. Therefore, is it possible that there a genetic cause of obesity? Let’s dive in.

Food Choices Affect Your Genes

According to recent study from Norway (NTNU), research show that a balanced diet is the best recipe for a life free of chronic diseases later in life. For instance, the best diet is a combination of 1/3 protein, 1/3 fat, and 1/3 carbohydrates. Does what we eat affect our Genes? One study found some amazing facts.

Case Study

The Institute of Science and Technology of Norway conducts genetic studies throughout the year. Participants received a variety of different diets. Food contains micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. These compounds can trigger genetic switches that determine what genes are turned on and off. What these studies found was interesting,

Norwegan Genetic Studies

Geneticist studies reveal that a diet with 65% carbohydrates, which is often the average Norwegian meal, causes certain genes to work overtime. Eating certain foods affect not only the genes, it also triggers the acute inflammation, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, and some cancers. At the end of the day, what we eat food can prevent or cause disease. NORWEGAN FAMILY DINNER - GENE EXPRESSION CASE STUDY

Lifestyle and Preventable Disease

Are human beings designed to be magnets for sickness and disease? What do you think? These questions weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of present-day geneticists. What if lifestyle changes prove to be preventable? What if food replaced medicine?

Let Food Be Thy Medicine

It looks like Hippocrates; the father of modern medicine is right – his theory that “Food is Medicine” makes a lot of sense. Even Hollywood super stars replace their old living with a plant-based diet.  Not only do they give up past unhealthy habits, but they also get amazing results.  Let’s dig a little deeper into the relationship between your genes, your diet, and your health.

What is a Gene?

As you probably know, a gene is not made by Levi 501 jeans. The gene is the basic unit of hereditary information. Genes pass down from parents to offspring and contain the information needed to determine physical and biological traits.

Most genes “code” for specific proteins. These proteins have various functions within the body. Humans have approximately 25,000 protein-coding genes. Every person has two copies of each gene. We inherit one gene from each parent.

What is the Function of a Gene?

Genes carry the information that determines your traits. For example, if both of your parents have green eyes, you inherit the trait of green eyes from them. Or if your mom has freckles, you inherit freckles from her. However, all animals and plants have genes, too.

Where are these Important Genes?

Genes are so small; you can’t see them. They develop on tiny spaghetti-like structures called chromosomes (Kro-moh-somes). These chromosomes are inside pf cells. Your body is made of billions of cells. Cells very small units that make up all living things. A cell is so tiny that you can only see it using a strong microscope.

Chromosomes come in matching sets of two (or pairs) and there are hundreds – sometimes thousands – of genes in just one chromosome. The chromosomes and genes consist of DNA, which is short for deoxyribonucleic (dee-ox-se-ri-bo-nyoo-Clay-ik) acid. Your DNA the building blocks of your genetics. DNA DIAGRAM - CONNECTION TO CHROMOSOMES AND CELLS

Genetics is a Branch of Biology

Genetics is a branch of biology that specialize in the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity. Although the study of genetics was around many years ago, Gregor Mendel, was the first to study it scientifically. He specialized in the study of genetic traits.

What traits are Genetic?

Parents pass on traits or characteristics (eye color and blood type) to their children through their genes. Some health conditions and diseases are also passed on. One characteristic, such as blood type, has many different forms.  For example, you can inherit blood type A, B, AB, or O. In addition, you can inherit Ab, Positive, B Positive, O Negative, O Positive (universal blood type) blood types. Altogether, these make up your genetic information.

What is Genetic Information?

Genetic information includes information about your individual genetic tests and the genetic tests of your family members. In addition, it includes data about a disease or a disorder of another family member (family medical history). This information leads to the next topic regarding gene expression. GENE EXPRESSION - ILLUSTRATION OF GENE FUNCTION

Gene Expression

Gene expression is the process by which information is encoded in a gene. This information is then used to make RNA molecules that code for proteins.  In addition, information is used to make non-coding RNA molecules that serve other functions. This sounds a bit scientific; I know.

Gene expression is used in biological research to understand the mechanisms of complex disorders such as heart disease, cancer, and other metabolic disorders. These disorders are summarized in the theory of the central dogma of biology.

Central Dogma of Molecular Biology

Gene expression is summarized in the central dogma of molecular biology. This anthology was first formulated by Francis Crick in 1958. The central dogma of molecular biology is a theory stating that genetic information flows only in one direction, from DNA, to protein, or RNA directly to protein. Another interesting subdivision of genetics is called nutrigenetics.


Nutrigenetics is the study of the relationships between genes, diet, and health outcomes. Nutrigenomics, on the other hand, is a related but distinct field. It is the study of how genes and nutrients interact at the molecular level. However, the field of nutrigenetics is relatively new. Therefore, science and technology make waves in this new field of study.  This research revolves around your genes and nutrigenetics.

overlapping circles that share content relative to nutrition

Nutrigenics is a burgeoning new field of science. In fact, it is in early stage of development.  Nutrigenetics identifies genetic susceptibility to diseases. It is also important for the following reasons:

  • It identifies the ways in which genes interact with food in the body.
  • Enables us to realize how our genes react to foods, beverage, and supplements
  • Nutrigenetic specialists plan your diet based on your genetic make-up.
  • Genetics, environment and food are interrelated.

The Relationship Between Genes, Environment and Food

In 2016, researchers in Norway carried out a study on the relationship between genetics, environment, and food preferences. The result of this study shows that genetic factors influence how much food we eat. The study included six food groups – vegetables, fruits, starchy foods, meat or fish, dairy and snacks.

As a result, Biologists in Norway found that certain genes cause food cravings. If scientists conquer food cravings and triggers, once and for all, we conquer the obesity crisis, once and for all. Do you think the key to weight loss inside our DNA?

DNA and the Best Foods for You

According to genetic specialists, 45% of people’s genes need a high carbohydrate diet, 47% need moderate and only 8% need low.  Therefore, your DNA reveals things about your genotype (genetic make-up). In addition, DNA also shows your food sensitivities to lactose, gluten, caffeine, and protein. In fact, DNA can show which foods are healthiest for you.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a gene?

Your DNA is made up of different sections called genes. Each gene has the responsible to create proteins that perform different tasks.

Function of proteins?

Proteins are created by genes to carry out specific tasks in the body. Some of these tasks shape how you look or control your body’s ability to work smoothly.

What is Genetic Information?

Deep inside every part of your body lies special information that is passed down to you by your birth parents and helps shape what you look like and how your body works.

What is a cell?

The smallest unit of life. Your body is made up of trillions of cells.

What is a chromosome?

Within each cell there are 23 pairs of chromosomes that you inherit from your birth parents.

What is DNA?

Each chromosome is made of strands of deoxyribonucleic acid, also known as DNA. DNA carries the genetic information needed to build and maintain everything in your body.

Why is genetics important?

You can think of your genes as an instruction manual within your cells. It gives your body direction for what to do and how to do it. Genes provide instruction for physical qualities such as eye and hair color.

What does gene expression do?

Gene expression is the process of turning on a specific gene to start making messenger RNA. The messenger RNA performs intended jobs in the cell and forms proteins. Gene expression also controls how much messenger RNA is made.

What does DNA Have to do with Your Diet?

Our food choices are shaped by different factors such as culture, learning and age, and by our environment.

Leveraging Environmental and Genetic Influences

Studies help us understand the role genetics play in our lives. Science tells us that the interaction between genes and environment shape human development. Despite the misconception that genes are “set in stone,” research shows that early experiences determine how genes are turned on and off, or whether some are expressed at all.   Science and technology are the key to unlock the obesity puzzle. We are certainly moving in that direction.  FREEDOM FROM OBESITY - UNLOCK THE CODE

Final Take Home

The human body is a highly complex instrument. It consists of 25,000 genes, cells, chromosomes, DNA, RNA, and much more. Genetics is a vast field that overlaps with biology, biochemistry, genealogy, gene expression. These studies help us find out our own inherited traits, characteristics, behaviors, and traditions. As a result, we find the causes of certain diseases, genetic mutations, and discovery solutions to chronic diseases and other medical conditions.

Thank You

Thank you for following through to the end of this article. I hope you found something worthwhile to talk about with your friends and family members. We are all in this together. What I like most about my posts is that I get to have conversation with you. In turn, you give me more motivation to keep on doing what I do. I welcome all your thoughts, comments, ideas, questions, and feedback.  Leave them in the space provided below.

Rachele, Founder

2 thoughts on “Genetic Cause of Obesity – How We Turn Genes on and Off”

  1. What an expository read for me. Honestly, I found a ton of benefits within your post. Thanks for all you do. What I particularly found intriguing is our ability to trigger genetic switches that determine what genes are turned on and off in our genetic makeup. I never really knew how powerful a balanced diet is in this regard. And honestly, I found that I have not been paying good attention to my diets this past few weeks. I need to readjust before anything gets complicated for me in the future.

    • Harmony,

      Your comments are very humbling. Genetics is a sensitive topic, and it is oftentimes overlooked. While attending community college I took a course in genograms, and it helped me realize how characteristics and behaviors are handed down intergenerationally. Some of these genes can predispose us to certain dietary patterns. However, we can learn how to turn on the good genes.

      Sometimes it is a good rule of thumb to consider a gradual lifestyle change and allow yourself to readjust one meal, one day at a time. 

      Wishing you a Happy, Joyous Holiday Season.



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