Review: Channel 4’s Fat Family Tree

Comment: Channel 4 produced an interesting programme entitled Fat Family Tree. It was a scientific investigation of the so-called “fat genes” that may be responsible for weight gain.


A family was chosen as a case study and some tests were performed to analyse their genetic heritage.


Dr Dawn, who presents Embarassing Bodies with Dr Christian, met the McConnon family and looked at their family tree: obesity-related illnesses ran in the family and the concern was to pass unhealthy eating habits onto their children.


Scientists looked at the DNA of three members of the McConnon family and discovered that they all inherited “fat genes”, which can be categorised in four main groups:


  • hunger – this gene makes people snack more than average and it takes longer for them to feel full

  • reward – this gene makes people eat more food to feel satisfied

  • taste – this gene brings people to make unhealthy food choices as they prefer the taste of fatty foods

  • body shape – this gene controls where people store fat and if fat is carried around the middle it raises the risk of diabetes and heart conditions


The family was then put on a scientific, bespoke diet plan tailored to each individual based on their genetic predisposition. Showing how food is digested and how simple changes in lifestyle like walking every day can lower the levels of fat in blood plasma put weight loss into context.


Fat Family Tree was an excellent and informative TV programme. Our recommendation would be to investigate the emotional connection that people make with food and to interview psychologists to explain how we form these emotional connections early on in life and how we can manage them later in life.


Link to Fat Family Tree on Channel 4


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