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Suffering from obesity? The culprit may be your genes, not just your diet

illustration of DNA helix strands

Inactivity and unhealthy eating habits are obvious contributing factors to obesity. To shed unwanted pounds, change your diet and increase activity. But research from the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Institute of Biosciences and Technology (IBT) finds it may not be that simple.

With grant funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health, Cheryl Walker, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M IBT, and a team of colleagues from across Houston’s Texas Medical Center found the likelihood of adults developing obesity may be determined before birth.

“The DNA we inherit is like computer hardware. What runs the ‘computer’ is the software – the epigenome. In early life, as embryos or infants, this epigenetic programming is being “installed” on the genome of developing cells and tissues,” Walker explains. “Just like a computer, if the epigenetics – or software – isn’t installed correctly, the computer – or DNA – doesn’t work optimally.”