Is there an obesity gene? Or at least a genetic trigger that drives some people to eat more than others? It is possible as a scientific team conclude in a new study.
Scientists undertaking research at The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center have found that some individuals have certain "obesity genes". People with these genes have a tendency to eat more food and have a tendency to eat food which is high in fats and sugars.
According to the research outline, two genes have been identified called FTO (fast mass and obesity-associated gene) and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene) genes. These genes have previously been linked to obesity for both the FTO and BDNF genes are expressed in the part of the brain that controls eating and appetite.
The research was based on a survey and testing, run by the Look Ahead group. In the study some 2,000 participants completed a questionnaire about their eating habits over a six month period and also underwent genetic testing. There was a correlation between those who put on the most weight and eat certain foods with those who tested positive for one or both of the genes.
The scientists were keen to point out that the detection of the genes should not lead to ‘genetic determinism’ for it is possible for people to minimize the genetic risk by changing their diet and exercising more.
The study was published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The paper reference is:
J. M. McCaffery et al. Obesity susceptibility loci and dietary intake in the Look AHEAD Trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012; 95 (6): 1477