The research challenges the notion that an inherited propensity to obesity is impossible to overcome and boosts the case for the benefit of more exercise for anyone looking to shed some weight.
The study, published in this week's Public Library of American Science Medicine journal, is based on examination of over 20,000 people living in Britain.
Researchers found most of the study's participants inherited between 10 and 13 genetic variants known to increase the risk of obesity, with some inheriting as many as 17 variants, and others as few as six.
Using modelling techniques, the researchers found that each genetic variant was linked to an increase in body mass index (BMI).
Each additional genetic variant in the score was associated with an increase in BMI equivalent to 16 ounces of body weight for a person 5.7 feet tall the study said.
For physically active individuals, the increase was just 13 ounces.
Each additional variant also raised the individual's chances of obesity 1.1-fold, but in physically active individuals, the increased odds per variant for obesity risk were 40 percent lower.
Researchers note that the study challenges deterministic view of the genetic predisposition to obesity and emphasize the importance of physical activity in the prevention of obesity.
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