Amish crack the corpulence code

They only go to school for eight grades.

But that seems to make for enough ‘smarts’–or at least enough to outsmart one pesky gene.

We used to chalk it up to plain hard work.  But now it seems the Amish have been pulling a fast one all along–on the pesky ‘fat gene’.

According to a recent study of Lancaster Amish, moderate physical activity each day seems to ‘switch off’ the gene.

From the article: ‘people who got about three or four hours of moderate physical activity a day weighed up to an average of 15 pounds less than the least active people’.

How they differentiate between switching off a gene to lose weight and simply burning more calories over those three to four hours to lose weight is, well, lost on me.  But I’m not always the sharpest stick in the shed on these scientific studies.

Maybe you can figure it out–read the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal article ‘Amish can outsmart fat genes, study says’ (no longer online), for more on how they do it.

Plus: Canadian Amish keep it off, too

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    5 Comments

    1. Marc

      How they differentiate between switching off a gene to lose weight and simply burning more calories over those three to four hours to lose weight is, well, lost on me.

      It’s easy. Sedentary people with the “fat” gene variant are more likely to put on weight than equally sedentary people with the “non-fat” gene variant. But the weight difference disappears with moderate daily exercise. If this were just the exercise itself burning calories, you would expect active people with the “fat” gene variant to still be heavier than similarly active people with the “non-fat” gene variant because of the gene’s effects. Because the weight difference only shows up in the sedentary group, it seems the gene only has an effect in the absence of moderate daily physical exercise.

    2. Would the study have come upon different conclusions if they studied a different Old Order Amish group? In my opinion, more than likely. I wonder what the results would have been had they studied a group from Northern Indiana that is mainly factory workers?

    3. Aha-thanks Marc! Now that you break it down like that, makes more sense.

      Must have been the English major half of me coming through.

    4. Marc

      Would the study have come upon different conclusions if they studied a different Old Order Amish group? In my opinion, more than likely. I wonder what the results would have been had they studied a group from Northern Indiana that is mainly factory workers?

      Why do you think the results would have been different?

      1. Ann of Ohio

        Prevalence of fat gene

        I suppose there could be differences between Amish groups if the fat gene wasn’t present equally in all groups of founders.