For years, scientists believed that some people suffered from obesity because of their genes. Presently, following extensive experiments, researchers at Boston Children´s Hospital have found a connection between genes and obesity. Apparently, as published by the journal Science, there is a strange genetic mutation linked to severe obesity. Such findings have given rise to the term, ‘blame it on the genes.’
During the investigation, researchers found that mutations in the MRAP2 gene led mice to gain twice the weight than a normal mouse would have, despite being fed the same number of calories. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that the mice with the mutated gene were storing fat instead of using it as a source of energy.
Moreover, when mice with mutant gene ate a high-fat diet, they grew to twice the normal size and the gain weight was increased. Dr. Joseph Majzoub, chief of endocrinology at Boston Children´s Hospital stated, “These mice aren´t burning the fat, they are somehow holding onto it.” The results of the experiment suggest that the body uses and stores energy differently between obese and skinny people.
The findings are fascinating because it seems to explain the reason why some people continue to store fat while eating what is a normal amount of food. “The history of obesity for many years has been one of blaming people lack of self control,” said Dr. Majzoub.
Now, the problem of obesity can be blamed on the MRAP2 gene and might lead to treatments for obesity that alter the consumption of calories used, as Dr. Majzoub explained, “if some of it is due to a slow metabolism that would completely change the perspectives of parents and patients. It really would change the way we think of the disease.”
The gene known as MRAP2 sends a signal to the brain and controls appetite, so, when the gene of the mice is removed, the appetite increases tremendously, and so does its weight. Furthermore, researchers from Boston contacted Dr. Sadaf Farooqui at the University of Cambridge, who have studied the genes of 500 obese children. They found that only one child had the gene mutation, but three more might make the gene nonfunctional. Moreover, the normal-weight children displayed no sign of the gene mutation.
The results are amazing, as Claude Bouchard, a genetics researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, explained to the New York Times, “there are genetic controls not just of how much people want to eat but also how much of what they eat turns into fat or is burned off. The common mantra is that a calorie is a calorie and 3, 500 eaten equals a pound of fat on the body, that is not what happens in real life.”
The results suggest that the gene mutations might be causing obesity in less than one percent of obese people, we can blame obesity on the mutant gene; nevertheless, obesity might be linked with environmental factors and other mutations in the MRAP gene.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey, obesity increases the risk of hypertension, adverse lipid concentrations, some cancers and diabetes. Moreover, about 36 percent of American men and women are considered obese.
By: Oscar Guzman.