Whether a person is fat as a child or as an adult is a trait that is "substantially heritable," according to researchers.
Scientists have even isolated a gene in mice that affects weight (so if you start to see more sexy slim mice, this is probably why). The mice in the study ate the same amount of calories as their peers, but with one genetic alteration they gained weight. Scientists hope this information will help humans someday with weight gain and loss.
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Dietitians recommend eating fewer than five mice per week.
This is because it is known that human genes can influence how much food turns into fat and how much food gets burned off. The good news is that diet and exercise can still keep one fit. The bad news is that being skinny is way harder for those of us who still hide broccoli in the furniture.
Yes, a child's genes even influence how their parents treat them. So if you're following along, the genes that a parent passes along to a child, when expressed by the child, can predictably affect the way the parent interacts with the child. Parenting is a Rube Goldberg machine of diapers, tantrums, and subpar refrigerator art.
For example, mom treated your sister better because she was prettier than you.
A review of dozens of studies of more than 14,600 sets of twins showed that a child's genetics "significantly" affect how parents parent. One example: For boys, a region in the gene that codes for the serotonin transporter actually predicts how angry mom will get when her son, for example, hides the car keys in the toilet. Researchers say that socioeconomic and cultural differences as well as friends and school also factor into parenting differences.
According to the review's authors, this "means that parenting should not be viewed solely as a characteristic of the parent, but as something that results from both parental and child attributes," adding: "There isn't one style of ideal parenting. Each child requires a different environment to excel. So parents should not invest a lot of effort in trying to treat their children similarly, but instead, be aware of the variation in their children's attributes and nurture them accordingly."
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"Should not invest a lot of effort." Got it.
Explaining this idea to siblings who think everything has to be fair can be difficult, but parents can take heart knowing that even if they fail to explain themselves properly, they probably won't scar their kids for life.
Joe Donatelli is a freelance journalist who publishes The Humor Columnist.
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