The real reason why thin people are not fat: genetic advantage

Retro

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This one's so important and central to people struggles with weight gain that I'm pinning this thread.

Annoying how some people can just stuff their faces with all the tasty, unhealthy junk food that we love and crave, yet never get fat, isn't it?* Yet, for so many people, doing all the diet and exercise regimes in the world doesn't make much of a difference, especially not in the long run when it inevitably comes piling back on, with interest, other than in exception cases. This is especially true as people reach middle age and onwards.

The reason is what we've always known: genetic advantage and it's no small difference, either. Despite this being rubbished for so long by so-called "experts", it's true.

Some people bang on about being about balancing that equation of energy in v energy out, ie too much in without spending it, and one puts on weight, which is true. However, that's only the starting point and doesn't take into account why thin people aren't fat, as clearly they are spending it without exercise. But how? Genetics.

Back in 2019, the article below was published that explained this phenomenon and in 2009, BBC Horizon investigated it. That video can still be found online, search for "why are thin people not fat". It's no longer available from the BBC though, unfortunately.

In the largest study of its kind to date, Cambridge researchers have looked at why some people manage to stay thin while others gain weight easily. They have found that the genetic dice are loaded in favour of thin people and against those at the obese end of the spectrum.

“This research shows for the first time that healthy thin people are generally thin because they have a lower burden of genes that increase a person’s chances of being overweight and not because they are morally superior, as some people like to suggest,” says Professor Farooqi. “It’s easy to rush to judgement and criticise people for their weight, but the science shows that things are far more complex. We have far less control over our weight than we might wish to think.”


*Don't worry, it still has a negative effect on overall health though, just like for anyone else, so a healthy diet should still be had, but with the treats allowed on top. Grrr.
 

Arizona

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Arizona

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The study (with 104 citations since 2015) takes into account exercise and activity.

From the study (PDF):

"In conclusion, BMI, energy intake, carbohydrate intake, and leisure-time physical activity have all significantly increased over the last four decades in the United States, while fat and protein intake have decreased. However, for a given level of energy intake, macronutrient intake, and physical activity, BMI was higher over time. These results maybe a function of other factors significantly modifying how energy intake and expenditure influence body weight over time, or they may be due to biases in reporting of diet and physical activity over time. However, given the consistency of these results and the increasing evidence that multiple factors beyond diet and physical activity are associated with increases in body weight, further investigation of how these novel factors influence body weight independent of lifestyle factors is warranted."

Some of the citing articles mention obesogens:


"Obesogens are foreign chemical compounds that are hypothesised to disrupt normal development and balance of lipid metabolism, which in some cases, can lead to obesity."

"Obesogens have been detected in the body both as a result of intentional administration of obesogenic chemicals in the form of pharmaceutical drugs such as diethylstilbestrol, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and thiazolidinedione and as a result of unintentional exposure to environmental obesogens such as tributyltin, bisphenol A, diethylhexylphthalate, and perfluorooctanoate."

"Most of the environmental obesogens currently identified are either classified into the category of chemical mimics of metabolic hormones throughout the body or of neurotransmitters within the brain."
 
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Arantor

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I wonder if there's a higher correlation of prepared food in that mix mostly because of the lack of time to prepare - back in the day it was more feasible to have a single income family unit...
 

Tiffany

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Other parts of the equation to consider is Ghrelin "the hunger hormone". Ghrelin levels go up and down throughout the day. Sometimes you can retrain when you eat by riding out a rise in ghrelin (fasting a bit).


I'm still a believer in "eat for the activity". If you are going to have an inactive day, then considering eating less that day may help. Carb's turn to sugar which raises insulin (unless you plan on burning it off with exercise). Insulin alone is the single most difficult part of your blood sugar to control, but you can by controlling your carb load, keeping your protein intake at 1g/lb of body weight, but I much prefer more personally. Protein synthesizes so many functions in your body.


Some recommend eating within an eight hour window, and encouraging a fasting process which can be very healthy in the long run for the mitochondria and clearing out senescent cells. If you are a small person, I do not recommend long fasts though.

Other tricks for loosing weight is work out on a fast in the morning. This is pretty hardcore, but if you have stubborn weight, this often kick-starts the weight loss, if nothing else has worked.

If you aren't someone that exercises, walking is excellent and can be rather enjoyable, especially if you find a buddy to walk with. If you haven't exercised, then take it slow. Even a few minutes a day can build confidence and each week, you will get better and can add extra minutes to your routine. Weight bearing exercise becomes more important as you get older to keep your bones strong and allow the supporting muscle and connective tissue to stay active rather then atrophy.
 

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Also, just another thought about insulin. If you are having issues with rising levels on your A1C test (early marker for diabetes), you might consider berberine. Berberine is well known for balancing blood sugar and may improve your A1C test results.

 

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"One study found that almost half of "overweight" people were metabolically healthy, while 30% of "normal" people were not."

"In one 2017 study in the Netherlands, for example, people with high BMIs who were very physically active had the same likelihood of heart disease as people with normal BMIs who were just as active."
 

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"One study found that almost half of "overweight" people were metabolically healthy, while 30% of "normal" people were not."

"In one 2017 study in the Netherlands, for example, people with high BMIs who were very physically active had the same likelihood of heart disease as people with normal BMIs who were just as active."
Interesting article and I've read those points over the years; thanks for sharing. I think how you carry your weight is a big deal, either even all over or lots of weight in your belly. Weight particularly in your belly is a result of high cortisol and visceral fat around your organs.


BMI stands for Body Mass Index
This is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 kg/m² indicates a normal weight. A BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m² is considered underweight. A BMI between 25 kg/m² and 29.9 kg/m² is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 kg/m² or higher is considered obese.

The general measurement of the circumference of your waist is a good way to measure whether your weight is or is not at a healthy level. The reason why I say that is people carry weight differently and some carry a lot of their weight in their belly, rather then all over evenly. Weight in the belly is an indicator of excessive visceral fat.

Too much of any body fat is bad for your health. But compared to the fat that lies just underneath your skin (subcutaneous fat), the visceral kind is more likely to raise your risk for serious medical issues. Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and high cholesterol are some of the conditions that are strongly linked to too much fat in your trunk.


Waist size. This is an easy way to get a rough estimate. Wrap a tape measure around your waist over your belly button. (Don’t suck in your stomach!) In women, 35 inches or more is a sign of visceral fat. In men, it’s 40 inches. Warning: This is a crude tool, especially if you’re a very big person. And if you’re of Asian descent, the benchmark for visceral fat drops to 31.5 inches for women and 35.5 inches for men.

BMI.Body mass index is a formula for how much you weigh relative to your height. Online calculators can do the math for you. A BMI of 30 or higher is overweight. That could be a sign of visceral fat. If you’re Asian American, a BMI of 23 or higher could be a concern.
 

CyberGeek

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The article does not explain why metabolism slows down with age (which is partially explained by muscle breakdown) and why antidepressants lead to weight gain.
 

Arizona

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Weight gain can also occur naturally when recovering from depression: "Some people lose weight as part of their depression. In turn, an improved appetite associated with improved mood may result in increased weight."

The antidepressant Wellbutrin (bupropion) is more stimulating than most antidepressants and works on the dopamine reward system. It can actually help with weight loss (and smoking cessation) and rarely causes sexual side effects.

But SSRIs (which are the most prescribed antidepressants) can sometimes cause weight gain directly (by increasing appetite), with some SSRIs such as Paxil (paroxetine) more known to cause weight gain. At least with men, the more common complaint with SSRIs is sexual side effects, rather than weight gain. Relatively new SSRIs like Lexapro (escitalopram) may have fewer side effects, though not necessarily.

By the way, supplements that may help regulate blood sugar (like berberine and chromium) can often be taken along with metformin:


Research has shown that a combination of berberine and metformin can enhance the effects of these two medications on blood sugar. Also, berberine can make it easier to tolerate metformin with fewer side effects. Therefore, if your doctor says it is okay to take both berberine-metformin, you can go ahead and do so.
 
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Retro

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@Arizona that obesity paradox is fascinating. Shows you that mankind doesn't really know as much about weight as we're led to believe. However, it's clear that being morbidly obese is bad and in general, it's still a good idea to try to keep one's weight down, since it naturally tends to creep up as we age.
 

Arizona

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Growing up, I remember we ate the same meals and snacks week after week, year after year, like tuna casserole, the one kind of apple, and the same potato chips (which are now called "classic" potato chips). I think lacking this consistency is part of the reason most people (including myself) are more novelty-seeking regarding food.

Even for healthy snacking, the options now are endless, with Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and the like having entire stores filled with relatively healthy food like ten different flavors of hummus.

People have eaten processed foods since the advent of fire, but now the sheer variety of processed foods is a factor as well (independent of palatability). So one solution is to eat the same things (more or less) -- the TV equivalent of watching mostly reruns.

I also think there is not enough day-to-day awareness about the "sitting epidemic":

"For every 20 minutes of sitting, try to stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes."
 
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CyberGeek

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@Arizona that obesity paradox is fascinating. Shows you that mankind doesn't really know as much about weight as we're led to believe. However, it's clear that being morbidly obese is bad and in general, it's still a good idea to try to keep one's weight down, since it naturally tends to creep up as we age.
I wish there was a way to be able to spot reduce belly fat :/

Exercise actually causes me to gain weight. For some it increases appetite. The thing is the way the hormones work is even if you were to starve yourself, the hormone then signals to your body to store more fat.

I read an article recently. For some exercise suppresses appetite (helpful for weight loss) and for others it increases appetite (for those more prone to weight gain).

I suppose that at the end of the day of weight loss was so easy we’d all be slim. There’s a reason why diets and exercise don’t work for everyone and we all react differently to these tips and tricks!
 

Tiffany

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The article does not explain why metabolism slows down with age (which is partially explained by muscle breakdown) and why antidepressants lead to weight gain.

After reading your post, I thought about the muscle mass to fat ratio and does a better muscle mass help to increase a better functioning metabolism?


This article is a little muddy on it, but it would appear that increasing muscle mass through aerobic activity would help to increase your metabolism.

The other point on antidepressants, which @Arizona added with complete clarity, is that they certainly can interfere with weight gain, and the only one that doesn't is Wellbutrin, agreed. I've also read over the years that you can use Wellbutrin with Naltrexone for weight loss.

 

Tiffany

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Weight gain can also occur naturally when recovering from depression: "Some people lose weight as part of their depression. In turn, an improved appetite associated with improved mood may result in increased weight."

The antidepressant Wellbutrin (bupropion) is more stimulating than most antidepressants and works on the dopamine reward system. It can actually help with weight loss (and smoking cessation) and rarely causes sexual side effects.

But SSRIs (which are the most prescribed antidepressants) can sometimes cause weight gain directly (by increasing appetite), with some SSRIs such as Paxil (paroxetine) more known to cause weight gain. At least with men, the more common complaint with SSRIs is sexual side effects, rather than weight gain. Relatively new SSRIs like Lexapro (escitalopram) may have fewer side effects, though not necessarily.

By the way, supplements that may help regulate blood sugar (like berberine and chromium) can often be taken along with metformin:

Couldn't agree more about berberine and chromium. I've been taking berberine for about 6 months now as an experiment to see how much it changes my A1C lab results. So far, I'm impressed. I did not know if you were taking metformin that mixing it with berberine would be more helpful. Metformin is often a conversation in my house as an anti-aging medication too. Myoscience is the berberine I'm taking right now; has reduced cravings overall. *I'm not afflilated with myoscience.


@Arizona that obesity paradox is fascinating. Shows you that mankind doesn't really know as much about weight as we're led to believe. However, it's clear that being morbidly obese is bad and in general, it's still a good idea to try to keep one's weight down, since it naturally tends to creep up as we age.

Aging is a challenge and we are always learning what works either through new science, or happy accidents. Taking the berberine turned out to be a happy accident for me because it also has biotin in it. I learned I apparently needed more biotin then what was in my multi-vitamin.

Growing up, I remember we ate the same meals and snacks week after week, year after year, like tuna casserole, the one kind of apple, and the same potato chips (which are now called "classic" potato chips). I think lacking this consistency is part of the reason most people (including myself) are more novelty-seeking regarding food.

Even for healthy snacking, the options now are endless, with Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and the like having entire stores filled with relatively healthy food like ten different flavors of hummus.

People have eaten processed foods since the advent of fire, but now the sheer variety of processed foods is a factor as well (independent of palatability). So one solution is to eat the same things (more or less) -- the TV equivalent of watching mostly reruns.

I also think there is not enough day-to-day awareness about the "sitting epidemic":

"For every 20 minutes of sitting, try to stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes."

Good reminder for us all to keep moving. I move around a lot in between my computer time and just the way my day goes at home. I like standing desks too. Some people like the yoga ball chairs to help with your core while you are working at your desk.

I wish there was a way to be able to spot reduce belly fat :/

Exercise actually causes me to gain weight. For some it increases appetite. The thing is the way the hormones work is even if you were to starve yourself, the hormone then signals to your body to store more fat.

I read an article recently. For some exercise suppresses appetite (helpful for weight loss) and for others it increases appetite (for those more prone to weight gain).

I suppose that at the end of the day of weight loss was so easy we’d all be slim. There’s a reason why diets and exercise don’t work for everyone and we all react differently to these tips and tricks!

Reducing your core can be challenging, totally agree, but there are ways to do it. Checking your cortisol levels is a good start. The other is moving away from general sit-ups, because most people don't always remember the correct way to do a sit up and in the end you push out your core rather then making it flatter. To do a sit-up correctly you have to breathe right and think "belly-button-to-the-spine" at every up movement. I prefer the anti-sit-up sit-ups where you do knee-ups, cross knee-ups and isolated hip lifts. The plank over all, is the best core workout in my humble opinion. Correct posture in a plank position is important too; tucking in your waist and making your body a straight plane and hold.

I do understand your conundrum of exercising too, where it causes weight gain, rather then weight loss. You may then have better results to take more steps in your day and try and be more purposely physical rather then setting aside an official workout session.

If none of that is appealing, walking is excellent. I think we are all guilty of not seeing the sun much as we are working on our computers everyday and forgetting there's an ecosystem outside to be heard, smelled and viewed with some fresh air.
 

Arizona

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If none of that is appealing, walking is excellent. I think we are all guilty of not seeing the sun much as we are working on our computers everyday and forgetting there's an ecosystem outside to be heard, smelled and viewed with some fresh air.

Yeah, there are people in prison who go outside more (to the "rec area") than some computer geeks :D
 

CyberGeek

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After reading your post, I thought about the muscle mass to fat ratio and does a better muscle mass help to increase a better functioning metabolism?


This article is a little muddy on it, but it would appear that increasing muscle mass through aerobic activity would help to increase your metabolism.

The other point on antidepressants, which @Arizona added with complete clarity, is that they certainly can interfere with weight gain, and the only one that doesn't is Wellbutrin, agreed. I've also read over the years that you can use Wellbutrin with Naltrexone for weight loss.

Anaerobic activity increases muscle mass, correct. However for me my appetite increases when doing strength training hence I gain weight. Belly fat and not just muscle. I see the difference!

And yeah might be a good idea to experiment with different levels of intensity, as they have different impacts on the appetite of individuals.

I don’t do sit-ups. I can do them only with feet anchored with works your hop flexors rather than the core. It has no benefits basically as you work the wrong parts. And can potentially cause damage in the long run training the wrong parts.

And that has nothing to do with belly fat as per your comment of your belly coming out rather than being fat. You can’t control WHERE you lose fat regardless of what anyone claims. You are predisposed to lose fat where you lose fat according to your genetics and hormones workings
 

Arizona

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However for me my appetite increases when doing strength training hence I gain weight.
That is partly why my previous doctor was telling me that weight loss is 85 percent diet and 15 percent exercise. But what my doctor said is, at best, a generalization.

For most periods in my life, I have been hungrier than the average person. Just like some dogs are more "food motivated" than others. Exercising more doesn't make me hungrier, possibly because I am already hungry :D
 
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CyberGeek

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That is partly why my previous doctor was telling me that weight loss is 85 percent diet and 15 percent exercise. But what my doctor said is, at best, a generalization.

For most periods in my life, I have been hungrier than the average person. Just like some dogs are more "food motivated" than others. Exercising more doesn't make me hungrier, possibly because I am already hungry :D
Just bear in mind that as you eat less your metabolism slows down to compensate!

So as soon as you eat more you’ll gain the weight back. And in order to consistently lose weight you gotta keep eating less and less! Even then no guarantee due to the appetite hormone signalling to the body to store fat as your body goes into starvation mode!
 

Arizona

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And in order to consistently lose weight you gotta keep eating less and less!

Exactly. That's why -- at least in theory -- I try to focus more on preventing weight gain rather than weight loss per se. So when one's weight loss plateaus, one will be able to handle it psychologically -- rather than get demotivated.
 

Arizona

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"More than 70% of people with type 2 diabetes take drugs to treat their condition, while only about 3% of people with obesity can say the same."

"Tirzepatide [Mounjaro] achieved a more than 20% body weight reduction in clinical trials, while semaglutide [Wegovy/Ozempic] achieved a 17% reduction."

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On the positive side, some people in the US can quality for no-cost Wegovy or Ozempic through NeedyMeds.org.

Financial assistance options in the US: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drugs-wegovy-cost#financial-assistance
 
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CyberGeek

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Exactly. That's why -- at least in theory -- I try to focus more on preventing weight gain rather than weight loss per se. So when one's weight loss plateaus, one will be able to handle it psychologically -- rather than get demotivated.
It’s incredibly difficult to prevent weight gain when you’re on anti-depressants
 
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