Does weight loss prognosis depend on genetic make-up?


JA Martínez, PhD, Department of Physiology and Nutrition, University of Navarra, 31080 Pamplona, Spain. E-mail:


The prevalence of obesity is rising throughout the world. Indeed, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in many developed and transition countries. Obesity is a complex disease with multifactorial origin, which in many cases appears as a polygenic condition affected by environmental factors. Treatment or prevention of obesity is necessary to reverse or avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. Weight loss is a complex trait that depends on many environmental, behavioural and genetic influences. An effective programme for the management of overweight and obesity must take into account all of these factors. Individual responses to weight loss interventions vary widely and reliable predictors of successful slimming are poorly understood. The individual genetic make-up participating in energy expenditure regulation, appetite control, lipid metabolism and adipogenesis, have been reported to affect the risk of treatment failure in some subjects. In addition, the genotype could also help to predict the changes in lipid profile, cardiovascular risk factors and insulin sensitivity in response to weight loss. Herein, the current evidence from human studies that support the existence of a genetic component and the participation of different polymorphisms in the prognosis of weight loss induced by interventions leading to a negative energy balance are reviewed.