Gastric bypass surgery is proving to be a lifesaver for many people as the problem of obesity sweeps across much of the western world but its biggest problem lies in the fact that a significant number of people either fail to lose sufficient weight following surgery or subsequently regain much of the weight which is lost initially.
There are of course a variety of reasons for this failure to lose weight or to regain weight and top of the list in undoubtedly the fact that all too many people simply find it impossible to make the lifestyle adjustments following surgery and simply eat themselves back into obesity. However, researchers have now identified a genetic component which may account for some people’s failure to lose weight after gastric bypass surgery.
In a study involving over 700 severely obese patients blood samples were taken to test for the presence of two single nucleotide polymorphisma (SNPs). In simple terms a SNP is a sequence of human DNA, variations of the pattern in which can indicate how people will develop diseases and respond to such things as drugs and vaccines. Without going into the details of this particular study which are complex to say the least, the researchers concluded that just under twenty percent of the people studied showed a combination of specific SNPs which indicate that they are at risk of not only failing to lose weight following gastric bypass surgery, but might actually be at risk of gaining weight.
The problem we face today is not in finding a solution for those people who are suffering from obesity, but in preventing obesity in the first place and this is very much a question of education. There is no doubt that a small number of people are prone to obesity and genetics and other similar factors may play a role in this. However, the vast majority of the obesity we see today results from nothing more than poor eating habits and a lack of exercise.
The real problem however is that once people are obese it is human nature to look for any reason for their obesity which removes that feeling of guilt brought on by the fact that they might just have caused the problem themselves. Now what better excuse could you give somebody than to tell them that it’s not their fault but is genetic.
This is not to say that there is no validity in the research into SNPs or to suggest that there is not a genetic component to the failure to lose weight or to gain weight following gastric bypass surgery. The danger however is to release this data at too early a stage in the research process and to simply hand people yet another excuse for not tackling their obesity at a time when obesity is at epidemic proportions and most worrying of all is increasingly being seen in children at younger and younger ages.
Research is important and needs to be given its proper place in the scheme of things but we need to be careful to ensure that it does not sidetrack us from the real need to tackle obesity by educating people to change their eating habits and take sufficient exercise.