Horizon The Truth About Exercise and Fat, My Thoughts

The Truth About Exercise with Michael Mosley, of whom I am a big fan, explores the myths about exercise and how sometimes less really is more. Just a few minutes of exercise per week, split into 3 minute bursts of intense workout can improve insulin sensitivity by 24%, particularly useful for those at risk of diabetes. However, your genes play a vital role in how well your body responds to excercise, some people are classed as ‘non-responders’ and their aerobics do not noticeably improve. As Mr Mosley said when discovering he was among this genetic minority; “Thanks mum, thanks dad.”

The Truth About Fat, lead by surgeon Gabriel Weston explores the fat epidemic spreading throughout Western culture. Our genes, programmed by evolution, tell us to look for high calorie foods; a reflection of what life was like many years ago when food was sparse and any meal consumed needed to be high in calories for energy and survival. But nowadays, when we are spoilt for choice and not always surrounded by the healthiest choices, our genetic makeup is against us. As a nation we are eating more than we need to, and not always allowing ourselves to get ‘hungry’ before eating, as well as plentiful meals there are snacks constantly available.

The programme explores how overweight people often lack sufficient hormonal response to food; so although their ‘hunger’ enzyme is not usually higher than yours or mine, their ‘full tummy’ hormone is much lower meaning they can and do carry on eating without feeling full or satisfied. Weston explores new groundbreaking research into why we are different shapes and sizes, and how gastric bypass surgery could be replaced by a simple clever pill or injection in the future.

It is not as black and white as Nature Vs Nurture, often both are at work on levels we did not think possible.

My thoughts are that exercise is subject to the individual, both their genetics and lifestyle, and that personally tailored workout schemes are the only way to have real success in your fitness. And with weight, our genetic programming has a lot to do with it, but when combined with cultural forces this is often what leads to an obesity problem. Some people are born psychopaths, that is the inability to feel emotion/compassion the same way other people do (to simplify the condition), yet not all of them become serial killers or ever harm another person or animal, the thing which often drives psychopathic serial killers is the bad combination of a psychopathic brain and genetics (“warrior gene”), with a trauma in early adulthood or childhood abuse.

Conclusively, genes play a vital role in determining who we are, how our body and mind responds to our surroundings, but when combined with cultural forces the outcome is not always predictable.

Related articles worth checking out!

Are You Good or Evil? where Professor Jim Fallon discovers he has a psychopathic brain, and explores why he is not a serial killer.

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