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Keep on Moving

Physical activity may modulate the influence of genetic predisposition to obesity, ABC News reports.

A new paper out from an international team of researchers has uncovered an interaction between physical activity and SNPs in the FTO gene. As the researchers report in PLOS Genetics, they examined some 2.5 million SNPs in a cohort of nearly 200,500 adults, most of whom were of European ancestry. They classified about a quarter of these adults as physically inactive, while two-thirds were deemed physically active.

In this meta-analysis, the team found that the effect of the strongest known obesity-risk locus in the FTO gene was attenuated by about 30 percent in physically active, as compared to physically inactive people.

"Despite that sort of bad luck of having a genetic predisposition to obesity if you are physically active ... you're not going to reduce risk of obesity entirely, but you reduce it significantly," Goutham Rao from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, tells ABC News.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Kevin Niswender adds that the study indicates that lifestyle factors can influence genetically determined risk. "This study definitively confirms that lifestyle has an impact," he says.