Please be aware that some programs and video content are temporarily unavailable, as the CEMM transitions to a new website. This content will be available soon but if you have any questions or concerns please contact us here



Lt Col Reynolds
Unfortunately, obesity tends to run in families.[1] While shared dietary and lifestyle habits account for part of this tendency, research also suggests that genes may contribute to obesity. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about how genes can relate to obesity?

Dr. Patel
Genes can be a direct cause of obesity in certain genetic disorders, but they can also contribute to obesity indirectly. Research suggests that some genes increase a person’s susceptibility for obesity, but outside factors are still required for a person to be overweight.

The way that the body stores fat can be affected by some of these genes, which are linked to fat cell development, blood vessel formation, skeletal growth, glucose control, and insulin resistance; and many of them have a larger effect on women than men.

Other genes that might contribute to obesity affect eating behaviors and the way a person regulates their appetite. Genes involved in how the body expends energy and physical activity can also have an effect on BMI. There’s even research suggesting a link between obesity and genes that act in the brain and peripheral nerves, but precisely how variations in these genes contribute to obesity is not yet understood.[2]

[1] “Risk Factors,” Mayo Clinic,, accessed July 7, 2016.

[2] Dr. Francis Collins, “Genetic Studies Yield New Insights into Obesity,” National Institutes of Health, February 19, 2015,, accessed July 7, 2016.