People might think battling obesity is down to sheer willpower, but medical research says otherwise. Here are five potentially surprising factors that can affect your weight, as unearthed by The Truth About Obesity:

  1. Gut microbes.

Gillian and Jackie are twins – but one weighs over six stone (41kg) more than the other. Prof. Tim Spector has been tracking their progress over 25 years, as part of the Twins Research UK study. He believes a lot of their weight differences are down to the tiny organisms – microbes – that live deep in the gut. “Every time you eat anything, you’re feeding a hundred trillion microbes. You’re never dining alone,” he says. (…).

  1. The gene lottery.

Why do some people diligently follow diets and exercise regularly but still struggle to see results, while others do very little and don’t pile on the pounds? Scientists at Cambridge University believe 40-70% of the effect on our weight is down to variation in the genes we inherit. “It is a lottery,” says Prof Sadaf Farooqi. “It is now very clear that genes are involved in regulating our weight, and if you have a particular fault in some genes that can be enough to drive obesity.” (…).

  1. What time it is.

There’s some truth to the old saying: “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord and dinner like a pauper,” but not for the reasons you might think. Obesity expert Dr James Brown says the later we eat, the more likely we are to gain weight. Not because we’re less active at night, as is commonly believed, but because of our internal body clocks. “The body is set-up to handle calories much more efficiently during the daytime period when it’s light than it is at night when it’s dark” he says. (…).

  1. Tricking your brain.

The Behavioural Insights Team suggests Britons are bad at keeping track of how much they eat, and that calorie consumption is being underestimated by 30-50% as a result. Behavioural scientist Hugo Harper suggests a number of ways to subconsciously change your eating behaviour, rather than rely on calorie counting. For example, removing visual temptations might be more effective than relying on conscious willpower. (…).

  1. Hormones.

The success of bariatric surgery isn’t just down to creating a smaller stomach, but the change in hormones it creates. Our appetites are controlled by our hormones and it has been discovered that bariatric surgery – the most effective treatment of obesity – makes the hormones that make us feel full increase and the ones that make us feel hungry drop in number. (…).

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