Appetite and your DNA

Written by Maryam Haki Al-doori
Posted on January 22, 2020

Why is it that some people struggle more than others to lose weight? Could this be genetic?

Let’s discover how could your genes control your appetite.

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What is appetite?

It is the natural desire of an individual to eat and satisfy a body need, especially for food.

Food is an important component to stimulate your appetite. Even when you’re not feeling hungry appetite can be greatly reduced by satiety. 

It serves to regulate sufficient energy intake to maintain metabolic needs. It is controlled by a close interaction between the digestive tract, fat tissue and the brain. 

Moreover, the hunger feeling is related to the behaviour of the individual. The reduction in your desire to eat is known as anorexia, while the increased eating is known as polyphagia. When your appetite is not regulated, it leads to an increase in your calorie intake that would result in weight gain. 

Factors affecting your appetite

Physiological factors which include genetics, hormones and metabolism.

Environmental factors like temperature and food availability.

Personal perception factors such as body image, peer pressure and diet knowledge.

Let’s have a closer look at how your genes could control your food desire 

 As it turns out, genetics do seem to play a role. Perhaps surprisingly, however, genes have a big impact on our appetite than our metabolism. People who have a faster increase in body weight seem to do so as they feel hungrier more often than those who are naturally thin.

Genes associated with hunger regulation:

The most important three genes that regulate your appetite.

A study from the University of Cambridge consists of DNA samples and the medical records of over half a million people aged between 40 and 69 years old have found that the MC4R gene is responsible for controlling our appetite. This gene acts as an appetite suppressor in the brain. Therefore, individuals who have a genetic variation of this gene can easily gain weight.

The figure explain the mechanism of MC4R gene in controlling body weight.
image source:

Another key point, a variation of the MC4R gene protects against the risk of obesity and its complications and, importantly, also linked to lower the risk of blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. A recent study shows that around 4 million individuals in the UK have MC4R gene variation that resulted in appetite suppression and leads to weight loss.

By the same token, GHRL gene acts as an appetite regulation hormone that reduced the food intake and the feeling of having an empty stomach. Variation in this gene results in an increase in food intake that leads to obesity and its complications. 

Genetic testing and your appetite

So if you’re wondering if you may be genetically prone to high appetite? Try our DNA Explorer Essential to find out the DNA predispositions that could affect your appetite and your tenancy to gain weight. By understanding your genetic makeup for common personal traits, you can live your life in a better way.

The important fact that we need to take note is that there are around 2000 genetic variations in our DNA that affect our health.

Some of these genetic variations are dangerous, some are not. Another key point, each of us has different appetite risk based on our genetic composition.

The right choice of your diet can create a healthy lifestyle, fighting diseases, restore the energy we’ve lost, helping us sleep better, and plenty of other benefits.

For more information about your genes, feel free to check out our website here or chat with us on Facebook to exchange ideas.

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