With obesity rates on the rise, scientists have discovered six new obesity genes that may be responsible for appetite control and eating problems.
Scientists state that the six new genes (TMEM18, KCTD15, GNPDA2, SH2B1, MTCH2 and NEGR1) are what may cause people to eat more, instead of affecting their body’s ability to process fat.
Scientists examined the genes of over 90,000 people and found six genes associated with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Five of these genes are highly active in the brain, which could explain some people’s behavior with food. They suggest that these genes may determine one’s BMI.
“It might seem remarkable that it is the brain that is most commonly influenced by genetic variation in obesity, rather than fat tissue or digestive processes,” says Dr Ines Barroso, a senior author on the study. “Until 2007, no genetic associations had been found for ‘common obesity’, but today almost all those we have uncovered are likely to influence brain function.”
While these genes separately have little impact on a person, scientists estimate that a person with all six of the genes is at least about five pounds overweight.
“Very occasionally, mutations in genes active in the hypothalamus have dramatic consequences for weight gain,” explains Dr Ruth Loos, from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, “such that people carrying these mutations are severely obese. Such mutations might be considered exceptional. However, we suggest that the picture for common obesity is very similar: many or most genes associated with increased BMI are active in the brain.”
The researchers want to further analyze their discovery in order to come up with effective treatments in the fight against obesity.
This study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.