Nature v. nurture is an important debate in both psychology and adoption, my two careers. I think it can be pretty big in discussing weight gain and weight loss as well. Is our body shape pre-determined by our genes or a result of the environment in which we are raised? I have generally taken the stance that we have certain genetic pre-dispositions; however, those can be altered through our behavior and environment. Apparently the relationship between genetics and environment is even more complicated than that.
In Time magazine’s list of the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2009, I learned that not only can we alter our own genetics through certain behaviors and environmental exposures, but it is these altered genes that are passed down to our biological children. The example given was that those who smoke may have grandchildren who enter puberty early as a result of that behavior changing the grandparents’ genes. Apparently, this theory of epigenetics has been debated for many years, at least as far back as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. A friend explained that the theory says that because giraffes had to stretch to reach the leaves their babies had longer necks.
Smoking, obesity, processed foods, trans-fats, and more can all effect our genes in a negative way. If you won’t make your health a priority for yourself, will you do it for your kids? Your grandchildren? Your great grandchildren? Making healthier choices now can give your progeny (and yourself) a healthier future. How you nurture yourself now can effect the nature you provide to your biological children.