New Study Finds High Genetic Risk for Obesity May Require Over 14,500 Daily Steps

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A recent study published in JAMA Network Open reveals a significant association between genetic risk for obesity and the amount of physical activity required to mitigate the risk.

Led by Dr. Evan Brittain, associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the study analyzed data from 3,124 participants in the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program to explore the link between genetic predisposition to obesity and recommended step counts for reducing the genetic risk of developing the condition.

Findings from the study indicate that individuals with a higher genetic risk of obesity may need to undertake more physical activity than those with a lower genetic risk to prevent the onset of the disease.

Over a span of 5.4 years, participants with higher genetic risk profiles demonstrated increased rates of obesity, with those in the highest risk group needing to walk over 14,500 steps per day to achieve similar risk levels to those in the lowest risk group.

High Genetic Risk for Obesity

Dr. Brittain underscores the importance of personalized approaches to physical activity, particularly for individuals at higher genetic risk for obesity. He notes that while the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, these guidelines may not be sufficient for those with elevated genetic predisposition to obesity.

However, achieving such high step counts may pose challenges for many individuals, as the average American typically walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day. Dr. Mir Ali, medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center, emphasizes the need for dedication to reach these targets, acknowledging the practical difficulties involved.

While physical activity plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of obesity, experts emphasize the importance of holistic approaches to weight management. Dr. Alfred F. Tallia from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School recommends incorporating small lifestyle changes throughout the day, such as parking farther from destinations and taking the stairs.

Additionally, focusing on a balanced diet, stress management, adequate sleep, and hydration are vital components of obesity prevention.

Dr. Brittain emphasizes that genetics do not dictate destiny and encourages individuals to be empowered by the knowledge of personalized strategies to lower their risk of obesity. By adopting healthy habits and seeking personalized support, individuals can take proactive steps toward improving their overall health and well-being.


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