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Dr. Marc Bessler is assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and director of the Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery. He[…]

From nightly sleep to genes, Dr. Marc Bessler explains the factors that lead to obesity.

Question: Is sleep a factor in managing weight gain? 

Marc Bessler: It may not be. Certainly you could argue that during sleep you’re not burning as many calories but I think that probably just enough sleep to be comfortable and not tired, there’s no specific number that I know of.

Question: Is weight gain hereditary? 

Marc Bessler: Overweight, obesity is almost certain hereditary, about 70% of your weight is genetically determined and that’s identified from twin studies and things like that, it’s actually a closer correlation than height, your weight is gonna be most similar to your parents weight for the part than your height is gonna be similar to your parents height.

Question: If your parents are obese, how can you prevent becoming obese as well?

Marc Bessler: You gotta work really hard to make sure that your lifestyle and habits really, do everything you can to negate that and that means being really careful with your intake, being really careful with what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat it and your exercise and exercising regularly helps maintain your metabolism up because one of the things I was talking about before, regular exercise helps keep your metabolic rate up. It may not cause weight loss by burning off calories, but as you diet, as most people who are overweight diet, your metabolism slows, you take in less calories, your body uses less calories in response and that’s why people stop losing weight is their dieting, even though they keep their calorie count down. When you exercise it counteracts that metabolism rate decreasing by exercising you can keep your metabolism higher and therefore those less calories will end up in more weight loss ultimately. But if you don’t eat less, exercise by itself for the most part isn’t gonna cause weight loss.


Recorded on: 6/16/08