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Genetic link to obesity found

13th April 2007

Scientists have pinpointed a clear genetic link to obesity.


Scientists from the Peninsula Medical School and Oxford University analysed data from approximately 40,000 people. They determined that subjects with two copies of a "fat" type of a gene had a 70% higher risk of obesity than those who did not have the gene. They also weighed 3kg (6.5lb) more.

The data indicates that although lifestyle factors will help influence weight loss, some people will have problems losing weight because of genetic factors. Experts have estimated that half of white Europeans have one copy of the variant and one in six has two copies.

Scientists first pinpointed the FTO gene whilst investigating differences in genomes relating to diabetes. People who had type two diabetes had an increased likelihood of carrying the FTO gene and a higher body weight. This variant was determined by one mutation in the DNA sequence.

Carriers of the FTO gene were shown to have a 30% higher risk of obesity than people without the gene. Scientists hope that further research will allow them to understand the function of the FTO gene and its influence on body weight.

Professor Andrew Hattersley of the Peninsula Medical School said: "The typical message has been that if you are overweight... it is your fault. This work is suggesting that there is also a genetic component."

Dr Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "The discovery... provides a new tool for understanding how some people appear to gain weight more easily than others."

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Article Information

Title: Genetic link to obesity found
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 2530
Date Added: 13th Apr 2007


BBC News

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