The DNA you were born with matters, but it's not the whole story when it comes to whether or not you'll be overweight.

The DNA you were born with matters, but it's not the whole story when it comes to whether or not you'll be overweight.

 

Thin people have thin parents.

But genes are only partially responsible.

“Perhaps 30 percent of being thin is genetic―the rest is environment,” says James O. Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, in Denver, and cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who've lost weight and kept it off to see how they do it. If you’re raised playing sports and eating healthy, unprocessed foods, chances are you’ll continue those habits into adulthood, significantly raising your odds of staying slim.

Holly Johnson, a co-owner of a Sarasota, Florida–based marketing and public-relations firm and the mother of a teenager, describes her father as a “beanpole” and says her mother still weighs “within three pounds of what she did when she married my dad.”

But while genetics were clearly in her favor, Johnson credits healthful home-cooked meals for creating a model of good eating that helps her maintain her weight. “We always had breakfast and dinner together,” she says. “I was brought up with family meals, and now my family sits down every night and lights candles. Dining and healthy eating are important to me.”

This is the fourth post in a series of habits of thin people, drawn from a Real Simple magazine story written by ih8exercise founder Lorie Parch.

Illustration courtesy of rick / Flickr