We're well aware that genetics play a role in our overall health, but a September 2015 study finds that playing too much of the blame game when it comes to our weight can result in a higher number on the scale.
Researchers from Texas Tech University complied medical and self-reported data from 8,821 adults ranging in age from 18 to 79. They discovered that the more someone believes their weight is unchangeable due to their DNA — such as being a carrier of the debatable "fat gene" — the more likely it is this person will make poor choices when it comes to eating and lifestyle behaviors, ultimately leading to an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Another interesting tidbit: Believing weight was out of someone's control was more prominent in older adults.
In terms of food choices, the study authors concluded that as DNA-blamers grow older, they are less likely to examine food nutrition labels and to make fruits and vegetables available at home, and are more likely to consume prepared, take-out or frozen meals. These adults were also less likely to establish a regular exercise routine.
"If an individual believes weight to be outside of the influence of diet and exercise, she or he may engage in more behaviors that are rewarding in the short term, such as eating unhealthful foods and avoiding exercise, rather than healthful behaviors with more long-term benefits for weight management," wrote study authors Dr. Mike C. Parent and Dr. Jessica L. Alquist in their paper, which was published in Health Education & Behavior. "By fighting the perception that weight is unchangeable, health care providers may be able to increase healthful behaviors among their patients."
You Do Have Control Over Your Weight and Waistline
Now here's the good news: No matter your age, knowing that you have control can have major positive effects on many aspects of your health. Take the reins today with four simple strategies:
- Remember these two letters: GL. A massive April 2015 study from Tufts University found that diets with a high glycemic load (GL) — a measure of how a particular food can raise blood glucose levels — were associated with more weight gain, while an eating plan with more low GL foods led to weight loss. Limiting your intake of low-quality carbohydrates, such as white breads and pasta, potatoes and sweets, while increasing your consumption of protein-rich foods, such as yogurt, seafood and skinless chicken, will help push those numbers on the scale down, down, down.
- Drink more H20. Water does more than just hydrate your body — it can also fill you up. Researchers in a small August 2015 study from the University of Birmingham found that sipping 500ml (about 2 cups) of water 30 minutes before eating a main course can make it easier for obese adults to lose weight.
- Start journaling. Keeping track of what you eat can help shed a sizeable number of unwanted pounds. In fact, a 2012 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that dieting overweight and obese women who regularly maintained a food diary lost an average of almost 5 percent more of their body weight than the women who didn't regularly record their food intake.
- Put on your walking shoes. On September 9, 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General launched a campaign that emphasizes the health perks of walking and encourages the creation of safer areas for walking and wheelchair rolling in communities. "Walking is medicine!" says Leslie Sansone, walking coach and fitness personality. "It costs nothing and you can do it anywhere, even indoors! It doesn't matter if you're young or old when you start a walking program — everyone will reap the anti-aging, heart-strengthening, mood-boosting benefits."