Good Nutrition Can Overcome Bad Genes
August 16, 2007
Scientists in New Zealand are dispelling the common myth that obesity is caused by “bad genes.”
In what is referred to as a breakthrough discovery, scientists from Auckland University’s Liggins Institute have discovered that genetic pre-disposition to obesity can be reversed through good nutrition in early childhood.
Their research shows that when a mother is undernourished, her child’s body is pre-set to cope with a life of scarcity; therefore, the energy-dense, fast-food diet of the Western world results in children who are likely to become fat.
In laboratory tests, newborn offspring from both well-fed and undernourished rats were given leptin, a hormone that signals to the body when it has eaten enough. When they became adults, the long-term effects were measured by looking at genes that regulate metabolism in the liver. Rats from well-fed mothers reacted to leptin in the opposite way to those from undernourished mothers.
The researchers urge mothers to eat a more balanced diet (with the right amounts of protein and vitamins) during pregnancy. However, if the fetus is under-nourished in the womb, the long-term effects can still be corrected through good nutrition.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences July 23, 2007
The New Zealand Herald July 25, 2007