Researchers from the University of Maryland and the University of Miami had a problem. They wanted to study the impact of the obesity-related gene, known as FTO. They were interested in assessing the varying impact of FTO on active and sedentary individuals. But, where do you find a group of people who are not naturally television-watching couch potatoes?
You go to the Amish.
The scientists went to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where they found the perfect mix of activity levels for their study. Some Amish lead a fairly sedentary life, while others work the fields with horse-drawn plows. The researchers studied 700 older men and women from the community. They gave each an accelerometer to gauge their activity levels.
The results are, not surprisingly, not surprising.
The most active Amish, even though they carry the same FTO gene as the others, were far more likely to have a normal weight. The sedentary were less capable of combating their natural tendency toward obesity and their bathroom scales moaned with protest.
The researchers say the FTO gene, which is found in over 50 percent of people of European descent, was simply not a factor in the past. Manual labor and physical exercise were necessary for survival, so the pounds were kept at bay. But, today’s conveniences pave the way for the FTO gene to do its dastardly work.
So – unless you’re inclined to run off to Pennsylvania and join the Amish, you have some work to do. Any kind of work will do, so don’t be picky – just be active.
To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about the Amish, see this from The Amish & The Plain People.