The risk of becoming obese is 2.5 times higher for those who have double copies of a particular gene. However, a good diet neutralizes the harmful effects of the gene. This means that the critical factor is what you eat.
Several studies have found that exercise diminishes the effect of the risk gene, but a new study is the first to study the effect of the gene in relation to food habits. The risk variant of the FTO gene is common in the general population. 17 percent have double copies, meaning they have inherited it from both parents. Another 40 percent have a single copy.
The FTO genes acts in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates appetite and satiety, and the risk variant has been connected to an increased energy intake, especially in the form of fat.