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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is there any genetic link to becoming obese or is it always related to overeating?

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  • 1


    My name is Pamela Holdsworth and I have been a DIETITIAN in private practice since 1990 while also teaching at Southbank TAFE for 14 years. … View Profile

    I believe that there is a definite link beween obesity and the genes we inherit from our parents.  We only have to consider how body shape and sizes often mimic the parents'.  Dietitians can help people to lose weight but we cannot alter a person's inherited genes.  We can just help to modify them.
    Families tend to have their favourite or preferred foods and sometimes these very favourites can add to a person's weight problems… always having a calorie laden dessert every day to finish a meal….or always consuming heavy, fatty meals in our warmer climate after migrating from a colder country where the extra kilojoules were needed to keep them warm.

  • 1


    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    I agree with Pamela in that there is a link between our genes and obesity. Even though we cannot change our genes, we cah change environmental factors such as diet and physical activity which both have an impact on peoples weight.

    Adopting health eating habits from a young age and encouraging regular physical activity can all prevent against becoming overweight/obese. It is simply not healthy to “blame” our genes for the way that we are or have become, its the lifestyle factors that play a much bigger role here.

    With portion sizes increasing, an abundance of food now easily available, a decrease in physical activity due to long work hours, its no wonder many Australians are overeating and putting on the kilo's. My best advice would be to seek expert advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). APD's can help you to make healthy changes to your diet that works for you. To find one near you head to

  • Having gathered 28 years of private practice experience , Genevieve wants to assist people with practical changes to their food and lifestyle issues in order … View Profile

    Yes there is a genetic link to becoming obese. There are studies that show that overweight parents have overweight children, or there is much higher risk of being overweight if you're born to an overweight parent, which implies a genetic link.

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    Dr Kevin Dolan

    Bariatric (Obesity) Surgeon, Laparoscopic Surgeon

    Dr Dolan has been performing weight loss surgery in WA for 10 years, providing a long-term commitment to achieving and sustaining weight loss in conjunction … View Profile

    Obesity is definitely an interplay between genetic and environmental factors, so both genetics and overeating have a role to play, and the last time I looked at the research, there was over 15 genes that have been associated with morbid obesity. So certainly we're learning more as time goes on.

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