A study of genetically diverse flies may help explain why
some people can eat a steady diet of junk food and stay skinny, while others
quickly gain weight. Researchers put 146 genetically distinct strains of fruit
flies on each of four different diets–a nutritionally balanced diet, a low
calorie diet, and high fat or high sugar diets–and then measured body weight
and other metabolic traits.
According to the findings, published last month in
the journal Genetics, some flies were
highly sensitive to the different diets, while others maintained the same
weight regardless of what they were fed. Diet alone contributed very little to variability in weight. Instead, genetics and the interaction between genetics and diet played a major role.
The findings could give you an easy excuse for failed diet attempts. According to a statement from the Genetics Society of America, “This study strongly suggests that some individuals can achieve benefits from altering their dietary habits, while the same changes for others will have virtually no effect.”