Is Obesity Genetic? This Viral TV Show Thinks So. But We Disagree

May 30, 2023

It’s no secret there’s a lot of false information promoted on TV and the Internet. One recent segment from 60 Minutes caught our attention in the worst way. The segment dove into how genetics is the number one cause of obesity. At NativePath, we don’t quite agree... 

In this article, we break down the truth behind obesity and how you can achieve your healthiest weight with a more safe, natural approach.

Here’s the 60 Minutes Segment

Here’s the 13-minute segment where Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford talks about how genetics is the cause of obesity:

After you watch the segment, take a minute and read some of the comments. Their own viewers don’t even believe what they are saying! 

So, Is Obesity Genetic?

Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford referred to something called the “set point theory”. Under this theory, some doctors believe that everyone has a set weight range that’s determined by genetics, and that the body’s regulatory system will strive to keep you at that set weight.

That said, if this “set point theory” was true, wouldn’t obesity rates have held steadier over time instead of tripling over the last 60 years? 

Obesity rates would also be distributed more equally across the world. Instead, in the US, nearly 71% of men and 62% of women are overweight or obese, compared to 38% of men and 37% of women worldwide (1,2, 3).

Something about this “set point theory” just isn’t adding up…

Dangerous & Expensive Medications Are Their Solution?

So what is the proposed solution to the obesity epidemic?

One could argue that it’s the easy way out: Doctors are just wanting to put their patients on risky and expensive medications (one of which was an advertiser for the program) for the rest of their lives. 

And when we say expensive, we mean outrageously expensive: these medications can cost upwards of $1,300 a month. And they haven’t even been proven for long-term weight management!

Not to mention the side-effects and complications of such medications (4):

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation 
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness 
  • Retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the eye and the leading cause of preventable blindness)

I don’t know about you, but this medication doesn't seem to solve the real root of the problem. 

If Not Genetics, Then What?

At NativePath, we believe that rising obesity rates are mainly due to changes in the American diet over the last several decades. 

As we stated earlier, when it comes to obesity rates by country, the U.S. has one of the highest—with rates increasing by a whopping 300% over the last 60 years. These rates started to see an uptick around the 1970s and 80s, when ultra-processed foods became more common in American households (5). 

There are a few reasons why processed foods are detrimental to one’s weight loss journey:

For one, they're made with almost no whole foods. Instead, they’re packed with added sugars, salts, and artificial flavors. Not only that, they also include ingredients you’d never use in your own kitchen (think: artificial sweeteners, bulking agents, coloring agents, modified starches, hydrolyzed proteins, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils). Yuck.

Hydrogenated oils are particularly concerning. These chemically processed vegetable oils didn’t even exist until the last hundred years, and serve no natural role in the human diet (6, 7). They are jam-packed into ultra-processed foods like fried food, frozen foods, and even coffee creamers and salad dressings (8, 9, 10). These oils have been linked to heart health issues, chronic inflammation, and yes, obesity.

As life gets increasingly fast-paced, it's enticing to reach for ultra-processed foods because of how convenient they seem. But the reality is that they’re empty calories with no fiber or nutritional value—and they’re destroying the health of our population. Even if you diligently count your calories each day, eating these ultra-processed foods can damage your health and affect your weight (11).

How You Can Fight the Obesity Epidemic in Your Own Life

There are habits you can form to safely lose weight—and more importantly, keep the weight off:

  • Eat natural, nutrient-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and nuts (12). 
  • Opt for grass-fed, pasture-raised meat and poultry and keep it local whenever possible.
  • Eat a high-protein breakfast.
  • Avoid drinking your calories in the form of sugary coffee beverages, sodas, and sweet teas.
  • Get 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Not a great sleeper? Try this supplement.
  • Move your body at least 20 minutes a day. The CDC suggests that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, and two days of muscle strength training. When broken down into seven days, that’s just over 20 minutes per day!
  • Add an MCT supplement to your daily routine. This will teach your body to start running on ketones (instead of fat) for fuel. Simply add a scoop to your morning cup of coffee and you’re good to go.

The Bottom Line

While some doctors blame the obesity epidemic on genetics and promote dangerous and expensive drugs as the solution, we believe you can take matters into your own hands. 

Ultra-processed foods are a major factor in the obesity epidemic. If you want to lose weight, focus on eating nutrient-rich, whole foods while getting regular exercise. If you aren’t sure where to start, try our free 30-Day NativeBody Reset Program. It's a doctor-designed diet and exercise plan to restore your energy, metabolism and overall health. Dr. Chad Walding, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and the Co-Founder of NativePath, will guide you through every step of the way.

Kat Kennedy
Article by

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy is the Fitness and Nutrition Editor at NativePath. With a NASM CPT, NCSF CPT, and NCSF Sports Nutrition Certification, she has a passion for giving people the tools they need to feel healthy, strong, and confident.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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