Thin people: it's down to your genes, not because you're 'morally superior'

Genes play a bigger role in body size than previously thought

Genes play a bigger role in body size than previously thought

It's not just how active they are or their gut bacteria - some people actually have different genetic coding that helps them stay the same weight for life.

Meanwhile, comparison with 1,985 severely obese participants showed additional genes connected with poor weight control, a finding that indicated "the genetic dice are loaded against them", according to the study.

Researchers led by the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom looked at the DNA of some 14,000 people - 1,622 thin people, 1,985 severely obese people, and 10,433 people with an average body mass index (BMI). After identifying the genes that appeared to be linked to slimmer people, they then worked out a genetic risk score for each person.

Prof Sadaf Farooqi, who led the research, said: "It's easy to rush to judgment and criticize people for their weight, but the science shows that things are far more complex".

Numerous studies have looked in depth at the genetics of obesity, but few have concentrated so closely on people at the thin end of the BMI scale.

And the results suggest that there is indeed a "thin" mix of genes that can be inherited - or more specifically, an absence of obesity-associated genes.

But while the study challenges some people's assumptions of overweight people as lazy or unmotivated, Dr. Steve Mowle, honorary treasurer at the Royal College of Global Positioning System in the United Kingdom, told CNN that, "We do know that there are a host of other factors, other than genetics, at play in determining a patient's weight, such as diet and how often they exercise". All had a BMI of less than 18, which is technically underweight, but they were healthy and did not have an eating disorder.

The global team say this supports the idea that, for some people, being thin has more to do with inheriting a "lucky" set of genes than having a flawless diet or lifestyle.

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They found that approximately three quarters of people in this cohort had a family history of being thin.

Of course, genes aren't everything.

As previous research has shown, how thin or fat someone is can be down to a whole host of factors - from metabolism speed and exercise, to how tempting they find fatty foods - but this new study adds to the evidence that genetic factors play a big role.

"The genetic dice are loaded against them", says one of the researchers, Inês Barroso from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the UK.

The thin people, on the other hand, had a much lower genetic risk score.

Scientists say they have discovered the secret behind why some people are skinny while others pile on the pounds easily.

Commenting on the research, Prof Tom Sanders, emeritus professor of nutrition and dietetics, at King's College London, said: "This is an important and well conducted study confirming that precocious severe obesity is often genetically determined and showing convincingly that those who are very thin are genetically different from the general population".

Now, the researchers want to find the exact genes that are linked to thinness with the long-term goal of helping people manage weight-loss.

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