Being fat really is in your genes

Obesity may really be hardwired in our genes, another scientific study has suggested.

Academics have argued for years that obesity is not just caused by lack of exercise and overeating.

Now scientists at King’s College London have discovered that dozens more pieces of our DNA influence the body’s metabolism, which plays a crucial role in weight loss.

These 74 newly discovered genetic regions have not been previously linked to weight and may partially explain why some people tend to become obese.

Experts say the discovery could turn the tide on obesity by allowing them to design eating plans that are better tailored to someone’s genes.

Figures suggest around 35 million adults in the UK are overweight. In the US, 70 million adults are considered obese.

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

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

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

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

You searched for levels of 722 different metabolites – substances produced when the body breaks down food.

All participants also had their entire genomes sequenced, allowing experts to locate regions of their DNA associated with the different metabolites.

What Causes Obesity?

The NHS lists the following 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 leads to weight gain.

genetics: There’s some evidence that genes are involved in obesity, they say, but they don’t make it impossible to lose weight

medical reasons: Conditions such as an underactive thyroid can increase the chance of weight gain.

Results showed that mutations in 202 different regions of DNA were associated with most metabolite levels.

These included 74 that had never been discovered before in previous genetic research to fight 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 performs to break down food and turn it into energy – a process known as metabolism.

Previous research has shown that a slow metabolism makes it harder to lose weight because fewer calories are burned when you are resting.

Boosting your metabolism through a more active lifestyle is considered a key way to lose weight.

Dr. Massimo Mangino, a geneticist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital who was also involved in the research, said the findings could help turn the tide on obesity.

‘Obesity is one of the most common diseases and yet we still have so much to understand about its biological mechanisms,’ he said.

“Our latest findings could help unravel some of them.

He added: “Genetic studies show promise to help us find new treatments for obesity.

“By elucidating the complex relationships between different genes, we have a great opportunity to turn the tide against this disease.”

The study was published in the journal Metabolites.

Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, co-director of the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Metabolic Science, said it’s not clear how these genes are linked to obesity.

He said: “The relationship between the vast majority of these metabolites and either the causes or consequences of obesity remains unclear.”

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