Certain genes associated with obesity in addition to environmental and lifestyle factors increase the risk of obesity, according to new research. The findings showed that bad eating habits alone do not contribute to the disorder.

In a bid to find out whether lifestyle factors and obesity genes elevate the chances of the disorder, researchers examined data of 120,000 people. The research was presented at the ongoing European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) meeting in Munich.

Researchers looked into socioeconomic status of the participants and their lifestyle aspects including daily television watching hours, sedentary time, physical activity and westernized diet consumption. For their study, they also used 69 obesity-related genetic variants.

Results showed that obesity-related genes appeared to have interacted with environmental factors — more so, when those with such genes had poor socioeconomic background.

“Our findings suggest that there is no particular aspect of the environment or behaviour that if altered would have a preferential benefit over others. It is premature to suggest public health measures should be targeted specifically at fried food reduction, fizzy drink consumption and diet in those genetically predisposed to obesity. Instead, public health measures aiming to alter all aspects of the obesogenic environment in small ways may have more impact in lowering the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes than targeting a single or few aspects,” the researchers noted.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 37 percent of American adults have obesity. The CDC states that the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008, with the cost for obese people being $1,429 higher than that for people with normal weight.