obesity gene mice 2012

Obesity Gene’s Role in Weight Gain Illuminated in Mouse Study

Society is filled with weird mixed messages and conflicting concepts held at once, and no more frequently is this seen than when it comes to obesity.

Obesity has skyrocketed, and along with it, the idea that people who put on weight as they age or drop in socioeconomic status has also increased. While studies keep surfacing indicating that genetics, poverty and access to healthy foods are all massive influencers, we still insist on seeing obesity as a moral failing. (That’s not to say it’s only obesity- some parents report pressure from schools to treat kids for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] as well as disciplinary reports about… unwillingness to pay attention in class.)

Of course, we know the formula- calories in without calories out (in the form of activity) leads to a jiggly butt, right? Simple. And all the people who are obese now compared to previous generations have to be lazy morons who just don’t know how to put down the Chubby Hubby and take a Spin class. Jeez. Except another study out has examined the genetic component of obesity and has again determined that our bodies are equipped with subtle mechanisms to encourage us to hoard excess weight under certain circumstances.

It seems a gene mutation can block the signals our bodies send out to put down the fork (which while not telegraphing a set conclusion, makes it difficult to maintain weight loss or a steady weight for some individuals), and that the phenomenon was observed in mice who had been genetically engineered in a study in the publication Nature Medicine. In the study, mice that were genetically altered consumed up to 80% more than those without the mutated gene.

Prof. Sadaf Farooqi studies the obesity and genetics link at the University of Cambridge, and he commented to the BBC:

“Genes have a surprisingly large role, it’s often underestimated. Between 40 and 70% of the difference in weight between two individuals is due to genetics.”

Do you think we’ll see better advances in the treatment of obesity in our lifetimes?