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How Your Birth Year Affects Your Weight

The scale works in weird ways.

No matter how healthy you eat and how much you work out, the genes you inherit play a role in determining your body type. But new science suggests that the impact of a particular gene (FTO), which can increase your risk of obesity, depends on your birth year—that people who were born with a variant of the gene decades ago are less likely to be overweight than people who were born with the same gene variant more recently. 

In the study, researchers looked at the ages and weights of 5,209 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, which examined the genetic and behavioral patterns that lead to disease. Then they analyzed the same data set from the Framingham Offspring Study, which tracked 5,124 kids (and kids' spouses) of participants enrolled in the original study.

People born with the obesity gene variant before 1942 were no more likely to be overweight than people born without the variant. However, people born with the same gene variant after 1942 were especially likely to obese.

Researchers attribute the disparity to growing up in vastly different conditions: Evidently, today's techy landscape has fewer jobs that require physical labor and an abundance of processed foods that weren't available to Olds. Pair these environmental factors with a predisposition toward obesity, and it's easy to see how people who are born with the FTO gene variant are more susceptible to obesity than their ancestors. Damn you, digital age! 


While you obviously can't change your birth year, you can take advantage of the contemporary conveniences (i.e., free online workout tutorials and Internet full of info on how to eat healthy) that make it easier to stay fit—regardless of your gene pool. 

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors. 

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