A healthy diet can help people at high genetic risk for obesity control their weight even more than those at low genetic risk, according to a 2018 study in the journal BMJ, which looked at data on more than 13,000 nurses and other health professionals over two decades.
Genetic risk was calculated based on 77 gene variants linked to body weight. Changes in participants’ diets were assessed every four years using three standard healthy-eating indexes (based, for instance, on the anti-hypertension DASH diet), all rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts and low in red or processed meats, added sugars, and salt.
After 20 years, the researchers found that the more participants improved their diets, the more likely they were to lose excess weight or at least not gain weight, and that this association was strongest in the one-third judged to be most genetically predisposed to obesity.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Heart-Healthy Lifestyle vs. Genetic Risk.