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Is The Obesity Gene A Reality?

When it comes to obesity, both genetics and environment are thought to play their parts. A new study appearing in the journal Nature suggests that a genetic mutation may give rise to a obesity gene that couldĀ be the reason some people are at higher risk of becoming obese when they eat the all too typical western high fat diet.

Study co author Gozoh Tsujimoto, a professor in the department of genomic drug discovery science at Japan’s Kyoto University is hopeful that testing for this mutation could become more readily available, and those who have it could be warned away from high fat foods or perhaps treated with yet-to-be-developed medications.

We know that obesity happens when you consistently take in more calories than you burn each day. The right balance of calories in/calories out is different for everyone – some things that impact this balance include your genetics, overeating or eating lots of high fat foods and not exercising on a regular basis.

If you’re not sure where you stand in terms of your weight, a visit to the scale is in order. There are online body mass index calculators you can use to give you that all-important BMI number.

If your BMI is higher than it should be, you’re at higher risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, arthritis and even some pretty dangerous cancers. Carrying that extra weight also makes it harder to move about… keeps you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable.

In this latest work on genetics and obesity, the team examined a part of the body’s communication system that regulates appetite and the production of fat cells. They found that mice who did not have the component were 10% fatter than other mice were when both groups were fed the same high fat diet. These mice also had a higher intolerance to glucose.

Taking things one step further, the team saw that Europeans who had the genetic mutation, called GPR120, were more often obese than those who didn’t. Tsujimoto believes that this study is the first one to show the gene responsible for diet-induced obesity. He believes that over 3% of Europeans have the mutation and is planning to study how many in the Japanese Chinese and Korean populations have it as well.

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Gene Mutation Might Make It Easier For Some To Gain Weight… Continued…

There is a test to detect the mutation, costing almost $200 available currently only in Japan. There are no current medications to reverse the effects of the mutation.

As we’ve said here before, research on animals doesn’t always work out to something useful for people. Much more study in this area is needed before we’ll know anything for sure. Most experts agree that genetics is only part of the puzzle when it comes to obesity, but given that this study had consistent findings in the mice and people, the genetic mutation idea does have a firmer footing. Also researchers have a new and potentially exciting area to investigate, working to understand both the physiology and biology of obesity.

Today two thirds of the U.S. population is either overweight or obese. Our modern world offers an abundance of calorie-laden foods and drinks, not to mention few opportunities to be active. Still, the thing to understand is that genetic changes take far longer than the few decades any of these factors have been around. Experts believe that genes do play a part in whether we become obese, including the so-called obesity gene, but it may simply be because they help to regulate how our bodies naturally capture, store and use energy.

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