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Health & Wellness

You’re Not Just What You Eat

MED prof says staying trim is a mix of diet and DNA

Click on the audio link to hear an interview with MED’s Richard Myers.

While a diet of cheeseburgers and milkshakes won’t help you lose weight, research at the Boston University School of Medicine suggests that waistline width isn’t just a matter of what a person eats, but also of who is doing the eating.

Richard Myers, a MED professor of neurology, who has been studying the genetics of obesity, says it’s the interaction between your diet, your exercise regimen, and your DNA that ultimately determines how heavy you are. 

“The focus of our research is to identify the genes that interact with certain patterns of diet and exercise,” says Myers, who has found strong trends of obesity in families, implying that people can be genetically predisposed to obesity.

Exercise and a healthy diet often trigger those positive interactions, which Myers believes can lead to significant advances in the treatment of obesity. “Some genes we have seen recently seem to be influencing a person’s ability to maintain lean or fat-free body mass,” he says. “If we can identify the mechanism those particular genes use to stimulate the body to have a lower body mass, it would give us insight into useful therapies.” 
Edward A. Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.