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Are Genes To Blame For Your Battle With Weight?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I've never thought I was a lot like my mother. We don't have the same features, and our personalities are very different. But as I've gotten older, I see more of her in me. I've noticed (or many times my husband has noticed) me using some of her funny phrases or doing things she would normally do. Although those similarities are more recent, one thing that's always been similar is how we carry weight. Can you look at your mother (or father) and see yourself in 20 or 30 years? New research is analyzing genes and how much they determine your body shape and weight.

There are a number of factors that go into determining your size and shape. Up to 80 percent of that is determined by our genes, but a significant portion is also determined by lifestyle choices. According to recent research, some aspects of size and shape are more closely related to genes than others. For example, the ability to build muscle has a lot to do with your genes. Weight training will help you gain strength and create muscle definition. But at a certain point, you can look at your parents to see your capacity to build significant amounts of muscle. Certain body types also have more to do with genetics. The apple shape (vs. pear) is more likely to be inherited.

Scientists have identified a new gene that may affect how much you eat. According to the research, "Scientists believe this gene, which is carried by about 20 percent of the human population, may trigger a compulsion to overeat which could explain why obesity tends to run in families the same way certain body shapes do."

So does this mean all of your hard work might be for nothing? Definitely not. Although genes play a big role in body type, lifestyle choices are just as important. The rising rates of obesity in America aren't due to changes in our genes. They are due to changes in our lifestyle- less activity and more food. Although you can't change your shape or where you tend to carry weight, you have the power to make sure that your body is as fit and healthy as possible.

Do you carry weight like your mother or father? If weight issues run in your family, what have you done to keep yourself as healthy as possible?

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After my mother had cancer the first time and was sent into early menopause, she started having others to take care of for most of the rest of her life. She stopped taking care of herself, gained weight, aged then had alzheimer's and cancer again.
I am shaped more like she was though both with or without added weight. I think the flat hiney comes from my father's side though. Report
I hate to say this, but my mother is one of the reasons I am here. After so many diets and failed attempts to lose weight and keep it off, she does not look good. Everyone says that we look alike, but I don't want to look like her at her age. I know I inherited her plus-size thighs and broad hips, but I'm determined to make them trim and sexy. I hope that when I lose weight the right way (burning more calories out than in) I can convince her to get on SP to finally lose her weight too! Report
I have to say my weight is hereditary with several members over weight. However, i know a lot of this is environmental. Not all my family were big like I was all my life. Environmental or Hereditary loosing weight is hard to do. I do want to be a better role model for my girls than my parents were for me. I also do not want the health problems they have. These two things plus wanting a long life with my hubby and girls are what is inspiring me to get healthy. Report
My parents were both slim people because they worked all the time and they didn't sit around and gain weight like people do today. I was ALWAYS thin until I had my fifth child at 41, so I know just why I'm where I am today. It is ALL about what I eat and nothing else. Report
My parents were both slim people because they worked all the time and they didn't sit around and gain weight like people do today. I was ALWAYS thin until I had my fifth child at 41, so I know just why I'm where I am today. It is ALL about what I eat and nothing else. Report
"Scientists have identified a new gene that may affect how much you eat. According to the research, 'Scientists believe this gene, which is carried by about 20 percent of the human population, may trigger a compulsion to overeat which could explain why obesity tends to run in families the same way certain body shapes do.'"

That sounds very interesting. I hope there's more written up about it soon.

As far as the question goes, I carry weight like my mom--generally evenly spread around, but a bit top heavy--but I have a bigger frame like my aunts on my dad's side. (My mom has a petite frame, as do many of the women on my mom's side. Well, my aunts on my dad's side are generally the same as far as their weight being evenly spread, but a bit heavier on top.) We're all made from sturdy stock, I like to say. I believe my natural weight is on the higher side (I tend to look ill/bad with a BMI under 22), but I'm built strong so I tend to look like I weigh less than I do (People are generally off by 20-30 pounds or so). Report
Maybe I was adopted?!? Before I gained weight, I was a slightly bottom heavy hour-glass. My mom had skinny legs, skinny tummy, skinny bum and wide shoulders but she had my gramma's big chest. My sister was well endowed from and early age too but I'm a nice B cup. My sister is a mesomorph and, I swear, can gain muscle just looking at a set of weights. I had a muscle once but it went away when I stopped focusing on it.

Genetics is too complicated to make an across the board assumption one way or another. Whatever the genetic situation, the important thing is to control what is yours to control: how you live. Report
I remember my weight problems became a challenge after I became 40. I believe if I had been more careful about calorie counting and daily exercising, that I would not be having to lose weight now, as far as I can see, my weight problem is of my own making, rather than being genetically caused. Report
There are three girls in my family. My oldest sister is 5'8", I am 5'6", and our baby sister is 6 feet tall! Older sister has a slim build, narrow shoulders, and only gained weight after babies. I have been on the solid side since puberty, and seem to have inherited the German genes from both sides of the family (I have grandmas & great grandmas & aunts on both sides of the family with large chests & no waist to speak of).

I grew up in EXACTLY the same environment as big & little sister, but I'm the one who ended up with a serious weight problem. I know genes started me off--my shoulders will always be wide, even if I get thin. My thighs will always be solid, and I will never have much of a waist.

But in my case, a lot of the weight happened more because of my personality, because emotional eating was my drug of choice, and because I don't have a high metabolism, it all worked together to contribute to my weight problem. But I put the food in my mouth. :) Report
Both of my parents were thin, they did have some heavy siblings. I should be so lucky as to take after my father - actually I sort of do, except internally. He had a bad heart. My youngest and oldest sons look like me. I have three heavy sisters and three OK sisters. The oldest looks like my mom. Report
No. No. My genes are not to blame for my battle with weight. Any genetic disadvantage I may or may not have is negligible compared to bad eating habits and lack of physical activity.

Obesity is a modern problem. My genes are basically the same as my parents, as their parents, as THEIR parents. . . . Nothing has changed genetically, but obesity is increasing. It is a problem with diet and directly connected to the modern way of living. As time goes on people are less active and have easy access to more calorie-dense food. THAT is where the cause of the battle with weight originates, not our DNA.

ETA: A lot of people have commented that they have the same body type as their mom, etc, that they gain weight in the same way/places. Yes, that is genetic, but it isn't the reason you struggle with your weight. Your apple shape doesn't make it harder for you to lose weight, it makes you an apple shape.

The fact that you gain weight around your stomach first is genetic, but the fact you gained it anywhere at all is your diet and lifestyle.
My mother was an apple (short and obese) which is also where I carry my weight. My father is tall and getting thicker as he ages. I have bad eating habits but am hoping to improve. Report
I am like my mother short and chubby not as big as her but the legs are pretty fat and i do have a small waist a good shape but my legs'

I also carry my weight just like my father's side of the family...totally inherited! Sadly, my excess weight is always in my abdomen area. I have skinny legs, and fairly normal body size, but NO BUTT! I worked for several months with a trainer trying to get a little bit of something going back there. He was totally unsuccessful, and I finally quit paying $ for something I could not achieve. I do try to eat very healthy, walk, exercise, and learn all I can about the human body in an attempt to be HEALTHY which is the most important benefit of eating right and exercising. Report
I defiantly agree with the genetic link. I have a tendency to gain weight like my mother did. After my mother went into menopause she really gained a lot. Unfortunately my mother passed away at only 62 from cancer. I really feel cheated and wished I had bee able to ask her so many more questions.
Now I am 52 and I would be heavy if I didn't really watch what I eat as well as get a ton of exercise. I have managed to keep my weigh at a good level but I watch what I eat to try and do everything I can to keep healthy to avoid the BIG "C". Genes you have inherited can be good or really bad in all aspects. Report
Well I agree that this article is true but what I do not agree with is the fact that some people use their genes as an excuse not to lose the weight.

Have you ever heard of the term 'big boned' People love to say that they are big boned and thats why they can't lose the weight. Isn't that a cop-out? Report
Actually, I am like neither. My parents would be considered 'apples', and I am a total pear (lol). I am however told by many that my body looks more like my maternal aunt's and maternal grandmother's. Report
I `M LIKE MY MOM,so i joined sparkpeople, to learn how to change my eating habits. Report
A fascinating book that I'm reading challenges the idea genes play a significant role. THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF explains that "through the research of Dr. Lipton and other leading-edge scientists, stunning new discoveries have been made about the interaction between your mind and body and the processes by which cells receive information. It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology, that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our thoughts. Using simple language, illustrations, humor, and everyday examples, he demonstrates how the new science of Epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of the link between mind and matter and the profound effects it has on our personal lives and the collective life of our species."

Food for thought... Report
I have seen the evidence of genes in my jeans size. It's just the way it is - when I look at pictures of my Mom, I have her shape, chin, hands...and her mother's as well. The main difference is my height (thanks Dad!). it's very clear to me - Grandma was shorter than Mom who was shorter than me...but the thighs are familiar!
It's unfair, in my opinion, that all three of my brothers were "so generous" as to give me ALL of the butt in the family. Seriously...they might be able to put all 3 of their booties together & make one good butt, but mine will STILL be larger!
I do think that it is a combination of genes AND lifestyles, though...As I get off of my generous booty and move around, I make changes in my shape, but I will always have Mom's (Grandma's) hands, chin, etc...
So I say it's BOTH. Report
My father is a tall man, 6'2" and my mother is shorter, about 5'5". I ring in at 5'8" tall. My father is athletic, always has been, but being big runs in the women in his family, as they do with my mother's side as well. My mother struggled with her weight all her life. She is already big-boned, while I am not, and has been wearing larger sizes since she was a child. Since developing diabetes years ago, she has done everything she can to stay away from insulin and cut that waist size. She even wants to get a six-pack at the the ripe age of 60....YOU GO MAMA!!!!!

I can see the way their genetics have played a part in my makeup, from my shoes size the the butt I have on me, that no matter how big or small I get it has always been there, even when I was a five-year-old stick, I had a big bum, just like my dad's sisters.

I guess you can't deny the genetics, but you can be sure you can beat them in some things, and weight is one of them. Report
Both my parents were 5'7" and roughly 180 lbs. Dad had a more of a stocky build with some love-handles and Mom was a plus-size hourglass shape. My brother is 5'10" and at 25 was a 160 lb lanky guy. (he has since began weight training and is 185 lbs and built more like superman). I am over 30 5'4", 120 lbs and most definately a pear shape (like Dad's Mom). We are the only two people in our entire extended family of 35 adults who are not overweight. We are also the only two adults who can locate the produce department in the grocery store and have seen the interior of a gym. We were raised on convenience foods and little activity but we both made an affort to LEARN about healthy habits. It's very easy to know you shouldn't eat a box of twinkies in one sitting, but when you are aware of the actual damage you are causing it is much easier to make healthy decisions. I slowly gained 40 pounds between high school and my late 20's with occasional diets and rebounds but lost it all plus 5 pounds and have kept it off well over a year by having the knowledge to make healthy (or lesser evil) decisions. Little bro and I are the ones breaking the cycle in our family. Knowledge and determination are much more powerful than genetics can ever be! Report
My build is similar to my dad's (except a few "things"). I'm tall like him, walk like him (pigeon-toed), have (or could have) a muscular shape, and tend to be on the heavy side when not exercising and eating properly.

I used to hate being tall (5'9") but now I've excepted it and even appreciate my shape (round's a shape,,,right?...just kidding).

I just want to be the best ME I can be. I'll never be a cover girl but I can be a healthy one.

Spark On!
Deb Report
My youngest sister and I have always been told that we have "Nana's legs," meaning my father's grandmother's thick ankles, shapeless knees, and heavy thighs. I definitely get my shape from Dad's side of the family. Report
Ack!!!!!! I believe this is exactly backward - our genes are influenced by what we eat, our genes do not affect our food choices (that would be our environment). Our food choices affect how our genes turn on and off, which means that if you eat like your parents (likely!) you're going to have their body type. But it's not inevitable, and these articles have a tone of "why bother" instead of "break the cycle," which isn't a helpful stance. Report
I believe that we inherit our body type. All the women in my family are "large". Even those with healthy lifestyles have abundant curves. I have watched aunts struggle with weight all of my life. Their yo-yo figures and frustrations influenced me emotionally and physically. For a while in my twenties I used that as an excuse. Why work so hard on something that I will never accomplish. I decided that trying to do the impossible was a waste of time. Before I knew it I was a size 22 and larger than most of them. I am now doing something about it. I may never be the "ideal" size by society's standards, but I am determined to be healthy and fit. Don't let genetics discourage you from working on a healthy lifestyle! Report
Actually, no. Both my parents are very healthy and in good physical shape. They've always been. The same goes for my grandparents, on both sides. Yes, I remember my maternal grandmother going into a more strict diet at 70 to lose some of her extra pounds, but it was not a matter of 50 pounds, like it is in my case. My mother, for instance, does not exercise a lot and still manages to lose weight if she eats less. I can exercise everyday, checking my calorie intake, and it will be weeks until I lose 1 pound ( I am 52). Do you think I am a mutant? :) Report
Both! :( Report
I definitely caught the apple gene from Mom. Dad got all of the good genes. He's 5'8", in his 50s, and averages 145-150 pounds. All the women on my Mom's side have the big belly. What have I done about it? I have not allowed that to become an excuse for complacency. Report
My mom isn't very big but still struggled to keep her weight down. My dad carries his weight in his stomach and I might get that from him. He has that beer gut / trucker look. Report
I carry weight the same as my father did. He passed away when I was young, but in looking at pictures now, I see my body shape in his body and also in my aunt and uncles. The wonderful Polish side of the family, must be all the perogies! Report
From my mother side of the family. Report
I find that I am like my mom more than my dad. I noticed when I got to be in the 40's -50's I carry the extra weight around the middle like she did. She is in her 90's so that's a good sign. Report
I carry my weight, just like my mom and my grandma, boobs and belly. Report
Carry my weight like my dad. Around the middle. :) Report
If you take my mother and her 3 siblings, both male and female, and turn them around beside their mother, they are the same shape and almost the same person. If you then look at myself and my cousins, some variation but basically the same shape.

That is not to say I can't change the pattern or my shape ~ I am a foot taller than my mother but the same problem areas she had I have and so do MY daughters.

What I learned then is to work MY areas and recognize that I am probably predisposed to a certain shape. Report
Now, this is a really interesting question. When I was overweight, I used to think I took after my mother's side. Most of my aunts and uncles are either overweight or a tad stocky. I thought I was just like them. That changed when I lost weight. When I took off the weight, I discovered I was built more like my father's side. My weight gain was more uniformly distributed over my body. My mother's family tends to carry their weight primarily in their stomach. They're apples and I'm more of a pear like my dad's side.

Both sides of my family have medical issues that I need to be aware of. So, I've been doing my best to keep my weight in order, eat as nutritiously as possible and get some regular exercise and strength training.

Fortunately, except for some aches and pains, my PCP says I'm in fabulous health.

I definitely resemble my parents in many ways, and I work hard at not being the same kind of parents they were (another story for another day) with some *success*.

Unfortunately, weight- and shape-wise, I must have inherited a recessive gene from somewhere further back in the family tree. Maybe it came with a sense of humor :).

I am decidedly pear-shaped with a disproportionate amount of weight below the waist. Fortunately, I also inherited good eyesight, late-graying hair (hardly any yet), perseverance, analytic ability, and an aptitude for languages. Report
@SAVTAMOMMY- thyroid conditions are auto immune disorders and yes, they are hereditary. There are a few spark teams here that address thyroid disease. You should check them out.

I've often wondered who I took after, and after years of looking at everyone, I think it is my father's side of the family. My mom was more pear shaped and I'm not. A couple of my dad's sisters were more shaped like I am. What's funny though, is they were all slightly overweight, but they all got skinny when they got older! I'm really trying not to fall into the health problems they had, diabetes and alzhiemers disease. Report
When I was 45 yrs. of age, my biological family located me and we began corresponding through letters and pictures. I would spend hours trying to see a resemblance between myself and my mother, father, two sisters and three brothers. Other than looking a little like my one sister, they are all thin, my brother is a basketball coach for the Chinese World Men's basketball team and there I am, I got all the excess weight for all of them. NOT REALLY But I do believe it's not all genes , it's environment, culture and personality and pre existing health conditions that lend to the excess weight and the chubby looks. In all the conversations with my sisters, never have I heard either one say, "cant eat that it goes striaght to my waistline" whereas I only have to look at it and it goes straight to mine. I have sturggled all my life with overweight and now with the rt/ knee left hip injuries, I am more under the gun because I cant exercise like I used to. I am more careful now about what I put in my mouth. Report
Hi there!!! this is just great! Does any one know if hypythyroid condidtion is hereditary? Is there any dietary solution for this? Thank you. Have a g reat day!!! Report
My Mom has been "chubby" most of her life. She says the standard was different when she was young, and that she wasn't considered overweight, but she could lose 30 pounds or so and feel better. But she's 86 and enjoys her desserts and really won't seriously change her eating habits at this point in her life. She's not motivated to do so. None of her immediate family is overweight, nor were her parents. Some of her aunts and uncles were, but they were "married-ins." My father died when I was young, but he was very fit and muscular; there's no reason to believe he ever would have had a weight problem; no one in his family ever did. I, on the other hand, have been heavy since I was about 4 years old and had my tonsils out. Not sure if that had anything to do with it, or if I was just sick a lot when they were in. My parents had me tested, put me on diets and diet pills and on thyroid medication to increase my metabolism, not because I had any thyroid problems. I always ate and did the same things as my sibs, but I have a weight problem and they don't. Even on diet pills when I was 16, I never got to my "ideal" weight for my height. I'm on SparkPeople and Nutrisystem now, at age 62, and hope just get to a weight where I feel good, can walk without getting winded, and fit comfortably in an airplane seat. If I can get lower, that will be like winning the lottery for me. Anyway, I don't think I have a "fat" gene unless I got it from the mailman, but there is something going on with me and my metabolism that I don't share with my family. Report
Although I take after my mother appearance-wise in so many ways, she was never very much overweight. My father, who I do not take after appearance-wise at all except for weight issues, was overweight. So I would have to say that weight-wise I do take after my father. I know we get genes from both - I visualize it like taking two decks of cards and mixing them, then dealing some out, resulting in "unique me". Ya, I got a fat gene! Report
My father was a "normal size", only as his heart disease progressed, did he get a pot belly. My mother was obese and diabetic... and most of my family is either heading there or already there... Now I have a family team and we are all working together to help support each other to lose the weight and get healthy. Support and determination ... they work hand in hand for success. No one can do this alone! Report
Yes, I look like my Dad, but I am built exactly like my Mother. I remember as a teenager her asking me to diet with her. Because we were a large family, we had rice and home canned green beans for a meal. Or panckes as the only stable food in our day. Anything to stretch the dollar. So now I am elderly and have a better grocery allowance, but I am not doing well with my eating. I also have hypoglycemia and colitis so my system get upset easily. Admittedly, I have come to a point of discouragement. Report
Both my parents were heavy, but I've taken my life into my own hands. It took me 35 years and topping out at 535 pounds, but it's my life now and no one is going to take it away. Report
I may be considered a mutt, however with that said my mothers side of the family are short Irish (my great-grandfather coming to America before he had children) and my great great grandmother being of Native descent. I am the tallest on my mothers side of the family at 5'1 and weigh less than everyone. I was not raised by my mother or her side of the family yet here I am struggling with weight and how I carry it. From past experiences the only way I can be "thin" is to not eat. Something I will not do again. After a complete physical and blood work up with the doctor last spring I was informed that my insides were very young and heatlhy. I just am a bit fluffy. So there are times where I wonder since I have always lived a healthy lifestyle why not just be content with the rounder and shorter side of my genes. Hey there's may be nothing I can really do about it. Report
SIGH! This has been so true for me. I never saw my mother in myself until I got older. What I promised I never wanted to be like, I had become. I now know, because of Spark People, that I can change this pattern of the overeating-sedentary lifestyle. Thank you Spark People, you have changed my life forever! Report
I got lucky with my body type genes. Neither of my parents were overweight, but both my grandmothers were obese. My father had an amazing physique - lean and well muscled and with a resting heart rate of a young man, even in his 80's. And he always worked hard as a farmer. I build muscle easily (for a woman). When I was younger I avoided weight training because the 'Twiggy' model look in the 60s defined the way women thought they should look. Muscles on women were considered ugly. I'm so glad there's been a change in attitude and now I really enjoy my weight training and like my defined arms and back.
On reflection I think my grandmothers did a lot of emotional eating, which has been my downfall. Now that I've found Sparkpeople, and got myself into the right mental attitude, I'm looking forward to having the lean, healthy body that my genes have predisposed me to have. Report
I also recently became aware of looking like and sounding like my mother. I didn't realize it until I cut my hair in a similar style. My sister just about had a heart attack. She immediately said get rid of the weight and let the hair grow out. You look 30 years older than you are now. What a wake up call for me. Report
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