Walking may switch off ‘obesity genes’ while TV-watching ramps them up

Turns out that lacing up your sneakers and walking briskly for an hour every day can cut the effect of genetic tendencies toward obesity in half, new research claims.

How to enhance the genes’ effect? Watch a lot of television.

“In our study, a brisk one-hour daily walk reduced the genetic influence towards obesity, measured by differences in BMI by half,” study researcher Qibin Qi, Ph.D., a post-doctorate research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement. “On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle marked by watching television four hours a day increased the genetic influence by 50 percent.”

The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions in San Diego this past weekend.


Qi and colleagues analyzed data from thousands of men and women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They looked at the study participants’ physical activity and television habits two years before they examined their body mass indexes. Researchers also scored each subject on their genetic predisposition toward obesity, based on 32 established genetic variants.

Research published last year in the journal PLoS Medicine also showed that just 30 minutes of exercise for five days during the week can counteract obesity genes, Time magazine reported.

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