Pennington researchers say obesity could be genetic
BATON ROUGE - Researchers in Louisiana say they've located a gene which could explain why some people have a harder time losing weight than others.
Being overweight is something Chase Petit dealt with for most of his life. At one time the 23-year-old tipped the scale at almost 400 pounds.
"I'd always see my friends, you know, go out and I'd always just... shy away in the corner," he said.
Petit isn't alone. More than 30 percent of people in Louisiana are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It's one of the reasons researchers at Pennington Biomedical Center are trying to find out why.
"We know there's an awful lot of things that contribute to gaining weight," says Dr. Frank Greenway, whose recent studies show being overweight could be in a certain gene.
"People who have that gene have bigger appetites and they have a pre-disposition to obesity," Greenway says.
Petit, who lost more than 150 pounds in one year, tells News 2 he's worried some might use these latest findings as a crutch
"I think some people might use it as an excuse and be like 'I can't control it so I can't do this or that,'" he says.
Greenway and other experts are now calling obesity a disease, much like diabetes or the sickle cell trait.
"Society and the way we live, it's changed a lot," Greenway says. "Some people in this new environment are more suspectible to gaining weight than others."
Petit isn't quite sold on the theory, but says he's glad he's not in that category anymore.
"I don't know if it's a disease or people can't help it or what. I know for me I was able to help it, I was able to control it, so eventually I took the reigns into my own hands and you know, I lost the weight," he says.