Obesity has evolved into a huge problem in our contemporary societies such that experts have had to qualify it as an epidemic. More than 600 million adults from all across the globe are considered to be obese. Obesity is connected to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular ones, that in turn, lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals.
Researchers have delved into the subject to find out the cause of obesity. Two new studies have shed further light to the genetic aspect of the condition.
The first study deals with a comparison between the genomes and body mass index (BMI) of over 340 000 participants. The results showed around 97 loci in the genome, with more than 75 % of these being so far unknown, that seem to have a link to obesity. Furthermore, it seems that these regions are associated with the part of the central nervous system that has to do with eating.
One of the authors of the first paper, Elizabeth Speliotes, explained that: “Our work clearly shows that predisposition to obesity and increased body mass index is not due to a single gene or genetic change”.
“The large number of genes makes it less likely that one solution to beat obesity will work for everyone and opens the door to possible ways we could use genetic clues to help defeat obesity,” she added.
The knowledge of these loci can now be used to spot the genes that are involved in the onset of similar conditions as obesity, and help medical professionals to determine the best treatment.
“We envision using these genetic markers to help doctors decide which treatments would work best to keep patients healthy,” added Speliotes.
The second paper dealt with genomes compared with the waist-to-hip ratio of more than 224 000 people. The aim was to find a possible genetic element as to where is fat spread in the human body. The results revealed that 49 regions are concerned with body fat dispersal. The different fat deposits represent different health risks, and it is thus important to identify them. The biology of the health condition can hence be better explored.
Finding the genetic link to obesity might fuel better treatment to reverse the trend that is being witnessed all around the world, with obesity growing more and more into a problem.