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Gene clue in child obesity

7th December 2009

UK scientists have made a discovery about a possible cause of severe obesity in children.

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The team said a missing segment of "key" DNA could have a vital link with obesity in children.

They said the discovery could help in diagnosing the condition, which has sometimes been associated with "abusive overfeeding" by relatives or carers.

The researchers, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, studied 300 children with the condition.

Some of the participants had been put on the "at risk" register because they were thought to be overfed by their parents.

The researchers studied every participant's genome in order to identify missing or duplicate DNA, known as copy number variants (CNVs).

They then compared the DNA profiles of the obese children with those of children of normal weight.

The researchers discovered that parts of the genome were not present in the obese participants.

Researcher Dr Sadaf Farooqi said: "Our results suggest that one particular gene on chromosome 16 called SH2B1 plays a key role in regulating weight and also in handling blood sugar levels."

"People with deletions involving this gene had a strong drive to eat and gained weight very easily. It adds to the growing weight of evidence that a wide range of genetic variants can produce a strong drive to eat."

 

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