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When it comes to fried foods, sometimes I feel cursed.

My husband can eat as many spicy, crispy chicken sandwiches as he wants and never gain a pound. But for me, just smelling the chicken fryer seems to expand my waistline.

Now doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health show what we’ve all suspected: Some people do indeed pay a higher price for indulging in French fries and Tater Tots. And we have Mom and Dad to blame for it.

People with higher genetic risk for obesity gain more weight when they eat fried foods than people with lower risk, a team from Harvard Medical School reported Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

The effect isn’t huge. But for some people, the extra pounds could be the difference between being “normal” weight and overweight.

Eating fried foods four or more times each week is associated with two extra points on the body mass index scale when you carry 10 obesity risk genes, the study found.

But here’s the surprising part: For people who don’t have any of the obesity genes, one of those extra BMI points melt away. In essence, those mozzarella sticks are more fattening for those of us predisposed to a bigger waistline.

To find this interaction between genes and fried foods, epidemiologist Lu Qi and his team analyzed the dietary habits of nearly 30,000 adults in the U.S. They also calculated each person’s genetic risk for obesity by analyzing 32 genes known to be linked to the disease. Having these genes doesn’t mean you’re obese. Instead, they increase your risk for having a higher BMI at some point in your life.

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