Genetics Cause Obesity Says New University College London Study

Obesity Breakthrough As Fat Gene Raises Obesity Risk By 70 Percent And Scientists Know Why

The BBC reports that scientists have solved the riddle of why a fat gene, a genetic abnormality, causes one in six people to be at a 70% increased risk for obesity. Researchers had previously identified the “FTO” gene but had never figured out how it worked to cause excess fat. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. It showed that the FTO gene creates a double heap of trouble in that it increases ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone, and increases a person’s craving for fattening food. This is a major breakthrough in obesity gene research. It’s the first time it has been proven that genetics can cause obesity along with the understanding of how the genes operate to do so.

Contrary to what many people believe about obesity, the BBC reports that the disease is mostly familial, this is, inherited. While the current accepted “wisdom” about obesity runs along the line of blaming the afflicted person as being an “emotional eater,” new evidence suggestes that genetics plays a major role in the disease. According to the BBC:

There is a strong family link with obesity, and a person’s genetic code is thought to play a major role in the risk of them becoming overweight. People have two copies of the FTO gene – one from each parent – and each copy comes in a high and a low-risk form. Those with two-high risk copies of the FTO gene are thought to be 70% more likely to become obese than those with low-risk genes.

Dr. Rachel Batterham is the head of obesity research at University College London. She says that the problem lies in the brains of obese people and that they are pre-programmed to eat more. Their desire to eat seems to be unrelated to emotion. Rather, she says, they are born predisposed to be hungrier and therefore ingest a greater number of calories from fatty foods. “Their brain is set up to be particularly interested in anything to do with high-calorie food,” she says, and people with the gene are “biologically programmed to eat more.”

This new evidence flies in the face of the accepted treatment methods for obesity, including talk therapy. The book “It’s Not What You’re Eating, It’s What’s Eating You,” and countless other books that focus on how people are “emotional eaters” have pointed the finger of blame directly at the afflicted person. This line of thinking has traditionally ignored genetics as the cause of obesity.

Now, it seems those authors and mental health professionals may have to go barking up a different tree, as the evidence for a familial and genetic link to obesity continues to pile up. The new evidence echos what many obese people have known for a very long time- it’s not their fault. University of London professor Dr. Steven Bloom seems to corroborate this:

We know the tendency to overeat in a society with too much food and no need for exercise is inherited. Slowly we are discovering the factors which make us overweight and this study, encompassing not only demonstration of a higher level of hunger hormone, ghrelin, but also changes in the brain associated with ghrelin’s action, is an important step forward.

This obesity breakthrough shows that a genetic abnormality, present in a whopping one in six people, is at least partially responsible for raising obesity risk by 70%. Genetics cause obesity, just as many have suspected all along. This news understanding could pave the way for groundbreaking new treatments and one day, a cure.

By: Rebecca Savastio

Source: BBC



6 Responses to "Genetics Cause Obesity Says New University College London Study"

  1. Mmmmmmm   December 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Obesity is simply caused by eating more calories than you burn of–this involves moving the body. Ex. One female eats three regular meals daily and then goes to a restaurant to eat another late night dinner with a friend….Additional calories put on that will not be burned off the next day. Person goes through the same routine every day for years. No additional exercise is done to remove additional calories. Therefore extra calories revert to added pounds! Zoila, an OBESE person. It all depends where the fat cells are located on this person. It just so happens that her fat cells are located on her hips, thighs and buttocks, leg, etc….Oh, what a FAT person!!!! Now, it is HARD to lose weight….Obesity can be controlled by each individual. Eat healthy and light and please exercise!

  2. zale   October 1, 2013 at 4:57 am

    It’s not just the fat person’s genes, it’s also the genes of the bacteria in their intestines that influences their weight. Some people have bacteria that is far more efficient at breaking down food and causes more calories to be available from the food that has been consumed. That’s right, you and I could sit down and eat exactly the same food, in exactly the same amount, but I would walk away with almost half again the amount of calories being absorbed by my body.

    The genetics that are now being discovered and the bacterial differences in our guts are, in the 20th/21st century, maladaptions, but for millennia they were positive traits leading to increased survival which is why they are so widespread.
    I’m not fat, I’m just optimised for an ice age.

  3. Naheed Ali   July 20, 2013 at 3:46 am

    Obesity rates in the United States are still sky-high, but for the moment they appear to have stopped climbing higher, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention One out of every three American adults is obese, and two out of every three are overweight, according to the data. Among children and teens, the numbers aren’t much better: Roughly 17 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are considered obese. All of these percentages have increased sharply since 1980, the data show The obesity rate among women and children hasn’t changed measurably over the past decade, however, and it has remained largely flat among men for the past five years.

  4. Naheed Ali   July 20, 2013 at 3:40 am

    Most parents probably feel pretty confident that they know whether their child is overweight or not. The research tells a different story: A large proportion of the parents of overweight children — and especially mothers, who are surveyed more often — do not perceive their children as overweight. In some studies, the percentage of parents who don’t realize (or won’t admit) that their child is overweight has been reported to be as high as 80 percent to 90 percent It’s not entirely clear what accounts for this disconnect. For starters, many parents define obesity differently than health professionals do, and distrust the growth charts used by pediatricians.

  5. Rebecca Savastio   July 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Genetics differ from region to region. It is interesting how scientists not only have to discover what causes obesity, but also have to struggle with the ongoing stigma that “we should not give excuses” to overweight people even in the face of evidence that suggests it has little to do with choice and everything to do with genetics.

  6. correctores de postura   July 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Obesity is a modern disease, our way of eating, I wonder why indigenous tribes on every continent did not suffer from these symptoms, indeed there is a gene, but this is I think our way of life, we should not give more excuses overweight people have to encourage good nutrition and sport (the third of the U.S. population is overweight, if this is considered a serious disease pandemic.


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