I have a plethora of physical challenges but being fat isn’t one of them. I typically ate more than my wife Susan, and many of our friends, yet I remained thin while they wrestled with weight issues. I now have a better understanding why.
I’ve been doing research in preparation for a book project with Susan’s former doctor, Steve Foley. Based on his research and extensive medical practice, Steve is resolved to get traction for an idea that’s been around for decades but is largely ignored by the medical community.
Dr. Edwin Atwood, past president of the Endocrinology Society, identified the crux of the matter more than 50 years ago:
A predisposition to fatten easily or remain thin is obviously determined in large part by our genes. If genes determine our height and our hair color and the size of our feet, why can’t heredity be credited with determining one’s shape?”
It can, in large part. “We don’t get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we are getting fat.” And how fat we are programmed to be depends on whether we have the genes of a greyhound or a basset hound, as Gary Taubes notes in his groundbreaking book, Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It.
Weight is a huge problem for lots of folks, and most have the wrong paradigm to deal with it, which creates guilt and ineffective strategies. Taubes gets to the moral heart of the matter when he writes:
It may be easier to believe that we remain lean because we’re virtuous and we get fat because we’re not, but the evidence simply says otherwise. Virtue has little more to do with our weight than with our height. When we grow taller, it’s hormones and enzymes that are promoting our growth, and we consume more calories than we expend as a result. Growth is the cause—increased appetite and decreased energy expenditure are the effects. When we grow fatter, the same is true as well.
Still, there are things you can do about your weight, as Steve’s book will address. Until then, read Gary’s book.
“Do these genes make my butt look fat?”