According to the International Obesity Taskforce, there are about 1.1 billion overweight and 350 million obese individuals worldwide and these numbers are expected to grow to alarming levels in the next decade.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health agencies recommend determination of overweight/obesity status for an individual by the measurement of three different parameters which include, body mass index (BMI), total body fat, and waist/hip ratio (WHR). The cut-off points for classification of an individual as overweight or obese have been well defined for each of these parameters. Those individuals classed as overweight and obese are at a higher risk of developing one or more serious medical conditions, including hypertension, heart diseases and diabetes. Together these conditions are the second leading cause of preventable death.
Human obesity arises from the interactions of multiple genes, environmental factors and behaviours, rendering management and prevention of obesity very challenging.
Lack of physical activity and easy availability of palatable foods are generally regarded as the primary aspects of our modern lifestyle that have contributed to the increase in obesity worldwide.
Despite the fact that we are all exposed to the same environment, not everyone becomes obese. Part of this can be attributed to individual genetic differences.
Genetics determine the way an individual can respond to diet and exercise and also their susceptibility to obesity when exposed to an unfavourable environment.
There have been multiple reports that describe the inheritability of obesity. There have also been many studies based on genetic association, used to identify the gene-gene, gene-environment and gene-diet interactions involved in the development of obesity. These studies have identified a small number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that respond to diet and/or exercise. For example, people with certain SNPs are more sensitive to the amount of fat in the diet, while individuals with other SNPs are more resistant to exercise-induced weight loss.
The genes included in the Weight Loss DNA Test that have been validated as significant modifiers of both body weight and responsiveness to diet and exercise. Their inclusion in the test was based on very stringent selection criteria, which was designed by a team of experts in the areas of genetics, nutrition, obesity and weight management.