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Episode 94: Genetics Of Obesity And Genetic Forms Of Obesity


Episode 94: Genetics Of Obesity And Genetic Forms Of Obesity


Is it all in the genes? How much of obesity is caused by genetics? How much do epigenetics and the environment play a role in obesity? I came across Dr. Yeo, who is a geneticist specializing in obesity. I thought it would be great to have him on the show to discuss this further from his perspective.


Dr. Giles Yeo got his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1998, after which he joined the lab of Professor Stephen O’Rahilly, working on the genetics of severe human obesity. He is now a program leader at the MRC metabolic diseases unit in Cambridge. His research currently focuses on the influence of genes on feeding behavior and body weight. In addition, he’s a graduate tutor and fellow of Wolfson College and honorary president of the British Dietetic Association. Dr. Yeo is also a broadcaster and an author presenting science documentaries for the BBC and hosts a podcast called Dr. Giles Yeo Chews the Fat. His first book Gene Eating was published in December 2018,  and his second book Why Calories Don’t Count just came out in June 2021. Dr. Yeo was appointed as a Member of the British Empire on the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honors for services to research communication and engagement.



Key Highlights: 

Tune in to my conversation with Dr. Giles Yeo and learn:

  • The role of genetics in body weight
  • How big is the role of genetics in obesity?
  • Why obesity is not always a choice or the result of bad habits and poor willpower
  • Common genes that are associated with obesity
  • Mutations that disrupt genes that leads to severe childhood obesity
  • The leptin-melanocortin pathway and the control of body weight
  • Why it’s important to distinguish association from causation
  • Our body weight is primarily influenced by how our brain, influences how we behave around food
  • Inherent differences between one person’s metabolism compared to another
  • The thousand gene obesity
  • How reliable are genetic tests to determine your risk for obesity and the type of diet you should be on
  • The rare genetic forms of obesity Dr. Yeo has encountered in his practice
  • How is management different for genetic forms of obesity
  • Dr. Yeo talks about his books Gene Eating and Why Calories Don’t Count



“The role of genes in body weight – obesity just sits on one end of the spectrum – is between 40 and 70%. So it’s not zero, it’s not 100%, but it’s pretty high. It’s nearly about on average 50%.” – Dr. Giles Yeo

“We eat food, we don’t eat calories. So we eat food, and then our body has to work to extract the calories from the food and depending on what it is, your body has to work more or less hard to get the calories out. So all calories are exactly equal because they’re a unit of energy, once you’ve extracted them and they’re in your body.” – Dr. Giles Yeo




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