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Thursday 18th January 2018

Unhealthy eating triggered by genes

11th December 2008

A gene may carry the key to those at risk of obesity.


Research at Dundee University has shown that people who carry a gene variant linked to obesity eat an average of 100 extra calories per meal.

Some 63% of the population are thought to carry the FTO gene.

The Dundee team, which published its findings in the New England Journal of Medicine, conducted eating tests on 100 children aged four to 10.

Those with the gene variant chose foods with more sugar and fat rather than healthy options, suggesting they were instinctively attracted to such food.

Three eating tests offered to children included different foods but the researchers found the gene variant did not impact on how the food was broken down in the body, or when the subjects registered they were full. But it did reveal some were attracted to higher calorie food.

Lead researcher Professor Colin Palmer said: "This work demonstrates that this gene does not lead to obesity without overeating and suggests that obesity linked to this gene could be modulated by careful dietary control.

"What it effectively shows is that the people with the relevant variants on the gene have a trait which may lead them to eat more unhealthy, fattening foods."

He also suggested a link between soaring obesity rates and the availability of cheap, calorie-packed foods.

Research revealed that people carrying one copy of the key FTO variant (49% of the population) have a 30% increased risk of obesity. For those carrying two copies, the increased risk was almost 70%.


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