Scientists map genes linked to obesity
An effort to create a genetic map of obesity has uncovered more than 90 new gene regions related to gaining weight. including some with connections to the brain. That, according to the study published in the journal Nature, suggests that obesity could partly have a neurological basis.
An international team of researchers from the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Trait) consortium analyzed the DNA libraries of more than 300,000 people. They found that 33 newly pinpointed gene regions were linked to body fat distribution--which helps explain why some people are pear-shaped and others gain weight around their stomachs--and that 60 genetic locations influence body mass index or BMI, including some with links to the nervous system. That, according to the researchers, suggests that obesity is not just a metabolic condition, but one that also has a neurological basis.
Researchers think some genes contribute to how we control our appetites, and others to learning and memory around food. But the role of other genes in obesity is not yet understood. The large number of genetic regions involved reinforces the belief that one approach to fighting obesity won't work for everyone.
By identifying the genetic components of the condition, experts hope to be able to one day tailor treatment in a more targeted way to individual obesity patients.