Sometime around 1989, I worked for a company where the new owner, a very petite woman, began “cleaning house” when she took over by eliminating many of the employees who came with the purchase and bringing in new employees of her own choosing. Not all that unusual, except the employees she fired were all overweight - and the ones she brought in were not. As one of the new employees she brought in, I felt just awful about all these really nice people who were losing their jobs. I felt even worse when I was told, in confidence, by another employee that the new owner did not like overweight people. She felt being overweight showed a lack of self-control and discipline and those were not the kind of people she wanted working for her.
Sadly, I don’t think this attitude is all that uncommon.
There is some new research being done by an international team co-led by the University of Michigan that suggests some people may just be genetically predisposed to overeating. Being overweight, in many cases, may have absolutely nothing to do with self-discipline. As you know, I’m no scientist and find
some most all science to be strictly dullsville, but I find this fascinating.
What it boils down to is this: The research team “found six new genes that help explain body mass index and obesity, and all but one of the genes are tied to the brain rather than to metabolic functions, such as fat storage and sugar metabolism.” So the scientists look at these things when they are trying to develop new drugs and determining where in the body they want them to act.
Now here’s the part of the research that might make you wet your pants. SH2B1 (quite the catchy name) was first discovered by U-M researchers studying mice. The researchers created an obese mouse then returned it to its normal weight by turning on the SH2B1 gene in the brain.
Let me repeat that in case you were skimming and missed it: The researchers created an obese mouse then returned it to its normal weight by turning on the SH2B1 gene in the brain. Holy crap. TURN ME ON ALREADY!
Oh, and I’m curious to know if they turned that SH2B1 gene back on by sprinkling Sensa on the tiny little bowls of mouse food. The article wasn’t clear.
I would like to say I’m genetically predisposed to overeating, but I think the truth is that I often lack self-control in that area. When I really work at it, I don’t overeat.
How about you? If you have (or had) a weight problem, do you feel overeating is something you might be “hardwired” to do, or do you honestly feel it’s something you could control if you worked harder?
You can read the whole (short) article here, written by someone who understood what the heck they were talking about.