Being fat really lies in your genes

Being fat is really in your genes: Researchers reveal another 74 genetic mutations that may make you prone to obesity

  • King’s College London researchers monitored levels of key molecules in the blood
  • These included vitamins and amino acids and are released when food is digested
  • Researchers said the paper gave hope of ‘turning the tide’ in terms of obesity

Obesity can really be linked to our genes, another scientific study has suggested.

Academics have for years argued that obesity is not only driven by a lack of exercise and overeating.

Now, scientists from King’s College London have discovered that dozens of parts of our DNA affect the body’s metabolism, which plays a vital role in weight loss.

These 74 newly uncovered genetic regions have not been associated with weight before and may partly explain why some people appear to be predisposed to becoming overweight.

Experts say the discovery could ‘reverse the trend’ in relation to obesity by allowing them to design diet plans that are more tailored to a person’s genes.

About 35 million British adults are thought to be overweight, figures suggest. In the United States, 70 million adults are considered obese.

Obesity is known to increase the risk of several conditions, including cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

A study has added a growing body of evidence that some people are genetically predisposed to being overweight (stock image)

A study has added a growing body of evidence that some people are genetically predisposed to being overweight (stock image)

For the study, King’s College London researchers took blood samples from nearly 9,000 volunteers.

They searched for levels of 722 different metabolites – substances that are formed when the body breaks down food.

All participants also had their entire genome sequenced, allowing experts to identify areas of their DNA that are linked to the various metabolites.

What causes obesity?

The NHS lists the following as causes of obesity

Poor diet: This may include eating a lot of fast food, drinking too much alcohol or eating out regularly.

Lack of physical activity: Eating more calories than you burn in a day will lead to weight gain.

Genetics: There is some evidence that genes are involved in obesity, they say, but they do not make it impossible to lose weight

Medical causes: Conditions, including an underactive thyroid gland, can make people more likely to gain weight.

Results revealed that mutations in 202 different regions of DNA were associated with the majority of metabolite levels.

This included 74 that had never been seen before in previous genetic research fighting obesity.

The results were then confirmed in a separate group of 1,800 participants.

Not all metabolites produced play a role in weight loss, but some were clearly linked to BMI, the researchers said.

Metabolites are the end result of internal chemical reactions that the body makes to break down food and convert it into energy – a process known as metabolism.

Previous research has shown that a slow metabolism makes it harder to lose weight because it burns fewer calories while resting.

Boosting the metabolism through a more active lifestyle is considered to be a key method of losing weight.

Dr. Massimo Mangino, a geneticist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital who is also involved in the research, said the results could help ‘reverse the trend’ for obesity.

“Obesity is one of the most common conditions, and yet there is still so much we need to understand about its biological mechanisms,” he said.

‘Our recent findings may help unravel some of them.

He added: ‘Genetic studies really promise to help us find new treatments for obesity.

‘By teasing the complex relationships between different genes, we have a huge opportunity to reverse the trend towards this condition.’

The study was published in the journal Metabolites.



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