Researchers examining childhood obesity have discovered two gene variants that they believe could play a critical role in the development of common childhood obesity.
While their work is not the first to expose gene variants and their effects on obesity it does appear to be the first project focused directly on gene variants that involve childhood obesity.
Researchers found the gene variants by analyzing thousands of genetic studies conducted on thousands of children throughout the United States, Europe and Australia.
The new research “robustly” shows that the two gene variants predispose some groups of children to obesity while others are affected directly by their environment.
Research suggests that the gene variants are most likely to cause childhood obesity in the first several years of a child’s life, even in children as young as 2-years-old.
What isn’t clear at this time is how the gene variants work to cause obesity in children, although researchers speculate that they could be working in the intestine and have something to do with bacteria found in the gut.
The study comes at a time when nearly one third of children are obese or overweight while 17% of children and adolescents from 2 to 19 are considered obese. Obesity in children is considered when a child is in the 95th percentile or above based on standard pediatric growth charts.
In the mean researchers say they will continue to look for more genes that can affect weight gain and then compare those genes to lifestyle decisions to gain a better picture of what causes childhood obesity and how they can combat it.
What the outcome may be one thing is for certain, most researchers agree that fighting childhood obesity should start at an early age and should be focused on a healthy lifestyle free of junk foods and other “childhood favorites” that can cause issues early and also later in life.