The Genetics of One’s Weight

Genetic test can predict your risk for obesityIf you could tell a Kindergartner what his or her weight might be as an adult, would you? This gets filed in the, “I’m not so sure how I feel about this” category, which is why I am bringing it to you. Scientists have found that a simple blood test, which can read DNA, could be used to predict obesity levels in children.

But is this something that you would want to know?

Part of me understands that this can be helpful for working with children who are at risk for obesity, as well as its corresponding health concerns. This test could lead to earlier identification and diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, for example.

Yet as a parent, my first thought is that kids should be taught the same information about health, nutrition and fitness regardless of their risk factors. These are lessons that will benefit everyone throughout life, not just those who are at a higher risk for obesity. Additionally, this will not single out those who are at risk, perhaps making them feel insecure or put them at risk for bullying. While I am all for advances in medicine and wellness, this is one area where I think we should proceed with heightened caution.

This test does provide further evidence that being overweight or obese in childhood is not necessarily due to lifestyle, but may in fact be genetic in nature. There are switches in the body that control how genes work, and those switches are set during childhood. By the age of five, a test can predict one’s body fat content into adulthood. While one might think that this would reduce the propensity to fat shame, who knows if it could have the opposite affect.

What do you think? Would you want to know if your children are at a genetic high risk for obesity?


  1. I think as a parent I would want to know in order to keep an extra eye on my child. On the other hand I wouldn’t change much of what I’m doing now so not sure! I would not want my child to know! Paranoia for life and I would worry about it triggering eating disorders

  2. No, I wouldn’t want to know. As you said, I would want to teach my children about healthy eating habits, exercise, etc. any way.

  3. I don’t think I would want to know though I do keep an eye on my kids and make sure they know about healthy eating and activity.

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