Quick Study

Quick Study: For teens with 'fat gene,' exercise may be especially beneficial

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Exercise may negate effect of 'fat gene.'

THE QUESTION In teenagers with the "fat gene," which predisposes them to being overweight or obese, might exercise make a difference?

THIS STUDY involved 752 youths (average age, 14) for whom genetic testing showed that 477 had the "fat gene," which is actually a mutation of a gene associated with fat mass and obesity. For a week, all youths wore an accelerometer, a device that measured their activity levels. Those who had the gene mutation had, on average, more body fat, a larger waist and a higher body mass index -- BMI is an indicator of fatness calculated from weight and height -- than did those without the gene. However, youths with the gene who did moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day had a BMI just 0.17 points higher than those who did not have the gene; their body fat and waist measurements also were only slightly bigger than those of youths without the gene.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Teenagers with the "fat gene." Studies have linked each copy of the gene mutation with added weight of about 3.3 pounds. People often have more than one copy of the mutation.

CAVEATS Whether the findings apply to people of other ages who have the genetic mutation was not tested.

FIND THIS STUDY April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

LEARN MORE ABOUT exercise needs of youths at http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity (click "for everyone," then "children") and http://www.kidshealth.org (enter Teens site).

-- Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company