It’s all genetic!!

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It's all genetic!

Newspapers are always printing stories about the latest research proving that a particular malady is genetic, or that they have found the genetic basis of a certain condition.

I wait for a story that says, "Scratching your nose - genetic cause found!"

Here's the thing. Anything that the human body is capable of doing - everything from scratching your nose to schizophrenia, from panic attacks to feeling very hungry, will have a genetic basis. Your genes are the programs that create the body bits and their various functions, so every function has at its root a genetic thing going on.

But here's the thing. To say that something has a genetic cause (well, duh!) somehow implies that this means only a genetic intervention in the shape of genetic engineering, like growing luminous ears on the back of unfortunate mice, will enable a change to occur.

This is, of course, total nonsense.

Huntington's Chorea, now there is a genetic disease. It's inherited, it's deadly, and it is really, really horrible. This is caused by an error in the genetic code and gets passed on via the genes.

And being fat? That is caused by eating too much, and morbid obesity is exactly the same. The consequences can be just as horrible though.

Just because scientists are able to mutate mice to have human ears on their backs, and create horrible fat mutants does not mean that fat people have faulty DNA.

Now, now, those at the back who are shouting, "What about that bloke on the telly who had a kid that wouldn't stop eating as a baby and got fatter and fatter and then they found he had a horrible genetic condition?" Yes, we've all seen that TV show and the pictures of that poor child on the internet that do the rounds on social networking sites as people gawp at those less fortunate than ourselves.

But let's face it. It is very unlikely that you are a mutant. Now, you might feel like one on your really bad days, but realistically, you probably are not.

What these news stories add up to a really strong message that is in conflict with the "take more responsibility" message from the health gurus. The message is, "It isn't your fault, the problem is with your DNA" - ergo, you are a mutant.

These mixed media messages aren't useful and they can act as a great demotivator.

As always, feedback in the comments section below, thanks.

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