How hard is it to stay in shape at mid-life?

Over a year ago, I decided to take the plunge into submitting my DNA to 23 and Me to find out a little more about my ancestry and my health.  I must admit, I haven’t poured over the data and only initially logged into the site.  If you’d like to set up your own DNA submission click on my referral link here. (and yes, I will receive a small referral fee, but I probably won’t get rich from it)

After returning from a trip to the Caribbean and noticing that most middle aged men on the beach were “paunchy”, I started wondering to myself…”How hard is it going to be for me to stay in shape (Good shape) for the rest of my life?

I’ve taken the report that I received from 23andMe and plopped the information below.  It includes a screenshot of the information at the bottom.

I’m going to be adding to this post as I decipher the info and see if changes in specified areas have a profound effect on weight loss.

 Genetics and Lifestyle Associations at 23andMe

Your genetics can actually influence how much lifestyle impacts your weight, which is called “gene-environment interaction.”

We looked for these kinds of interactions by comparing the BMIs of 23andMe research participants with different genetics and different daily habits. In general, we saw the biggest weight differences between people who practiced these habits most often compared to those who rarely or never did. Each lifestyle choice seemed to have a slightly different effect on weight, depending on genetics. This table shows the average effect associated with your genetic weight predisposition as well as the range of effect seen in people with other predispositions.

Uncovering the connections between genetics, lifestyle, and weight is an active area of science, and our research efforts are ongoing.

Lifestyle factor
Range of observed results (% weight difference), from lowest to highest genetic weight predisposition
Avoiding fast food

Range 11.3% – 17.8%

Your genetics 17.8%

Exercising

Range 8.9% – 16.4%

Your genetics 16.4%
Limiting red meat
Range 12.1% – 15.5%
Your genetics 15.5%
Eating vegetables
Range 9.4% – 12.1%
Your genetics 12.1%
Eating fish

Range 3.6% – 11.9%

Your genetics 11.9%
Eating leafy greens
Range 6.9% – 11.9%
Your genetics 11.9%
Sleeping a healthy amount
Range 11.1% – 11.4%
Your genetics 11.4%
Eating fruit

Range 5.5% – 9.1%

Your genetics 9.1%
Eating yogurt
Range 3.3% – 5.9%
Your genetics 5.9%
Managing stress
Range 2.1% – 4.9%
Your genetics 4.9%

These findings are based on self-reported height, weight, and lifestyle data from over 45,000 23andMe research participants of European descent. All lifestyle factors included in the analysis were significantly correlated with BMI (correlation coefficients ranged from 0.2-0.3; all p-values < 0.0001).

Our analysis accounted for the effects of sex and age, but differences in reported weight may also be influenced by other lifestyle, demographic, and genetic factors not included.