Are You Born Fat or Thin?
Do you believe that you’re simply born to be fat or born to be thin?
The notion that DNA determines our pant size is highly debated in scientific circles and is by no means conclusive. A myriad of factors influence our body mass index. In addition to genetics, potential influences that have been implicated in waist circumference include physical activity, nutrition, endocrine imbalances (for example, thyroid disease), sex, environmental toxins and even intestinal microbiome composition, to name few. Other than heredity, the majority of these factors are partially or fully under individual control.
Fat or Thin: A State of Mind
Some people do believe that their weight is their fate however, and a new study suggests this philosophy is associated with poorer health.
Those who believe that body mass is outside of their control tend to weigh more, make poorer food choices and report lower levels of personal well-being than those who don’t. Specifically, people who believe that weight is predetermined are less likely to read food labels and make fruits and vegetables available at home. The belief that weight is out of our hands is also associated with doing less exercise and eating more frozen and take-out meals. It becomes something of a self-fulfilling philosophy and the pattern seems to be more exaggerated with age, as we become set in our ways.
More Than Just Genetics
The concept that we are born with an underlying body type is ancient. A tenet of centuries-old Ayurvedic medicine, for example, is that there are three prevailing body types – essentially slender, plump or muscular – although you can be a combination of types. While it’s true we may be “big-boned”, or “small-boned”, as our parents before us, within any body type there is always room for optimizing health.
The Bigger Picture
The tricky thing is that healthy habits usually involve exchanging behaviors that are rewarding in the short term for those that pay off in the future. Why shouldn’t we eat that cupcake? Why go for a walk instead of putting our feet up after dinner?
Motivation is the key to making and sticking with changes. Sometimes a goal of simply slimming down doesn’t seem worth it in the moment. It can be more compelling to keep our eyes on a larger prize such as maintaining energy to keep up with the kids or grandkids, staying mentally sharp or reducing cancer risk.
Modern-day evidence for a predetermined body composition is far from certain. Within a certain body type there is always room for improvement in terms of fitness, and small changes really do add up. The bottom line is that rejecting the notion that weight is fated makes it easier to embrace a healthier lifestyle.