Bring it to Barb


Dear Barb,

I am overweight and I think I carry the “fat genes” from my family and grandparents. Could this be why I can never lose even 10 pounds?  

Always Heavy

Dear Always Heavy,

People who eat too much and do not move enough are more likely to gain weight, which is logical since the body turns that food into fat that accumulates around the body when it isn’t utilized.

Weight gain occurs in people who have or do not have the so-called “fat genes.” The study finds that it doesn’t matter if you have these genes or not. If you make the wrong lifestyle choices, you are going to gain weight. Genetics do play a “minor role” in people gaining weight, according to researchers.

If you walk into a room and the first thing you look for is a chair to sit in or a place to sit down, that’s a pattern of lifestyle. Parking as close as you possibly can to a supermarket is a decision. Opting for a movie at the theater instead of a game of badminton, a walk, or fun with the grandkids at the pool or pets at the park is a common choice. The underlying notion, however, of doing as little as possible and the least amount of effort as a goal every day is a lifestyle and has nothing to do with genetics.

Researchers also have long-established that sitting around too much and eating too much is the primary cause of weight gain. It goes back to that deficit idea. You go to the gym or walk with a friend and burn 150 calories and then eat back 150 or more calories because you have an appetite afterward. You have no deficit or loss and just worked your heart and muscles. That’s good, but did not achieve any additional calories burned? Eat an apple with 75 calories and you have a deficit of 75 calories. It is simple math.

American kids between ages 2 and 11 watch around 3.5 hours of television per day, and that sedentary time means they’re burning fewer calories than kids who spend those hours engaged in active play. When you replace time that kids would have spent playing tag in the park with time parked on their behinds – and a bag of chips in hand – they gain weight.

Regardless of any “fat gene” propensity, if you really want to do something, you will find a way and if you don’t, you will find an excuse.

Barb Rock is a mental health counselor and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at

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