Is there an obesity gene?

Obesity is one of the most serious civilization diseases of the 21st century. It means excessive accumulation of adipose tissue in the body. What level of body fat are we discussing? In the case of women, this is a level above 25% of the total body weight, and in the case of men above 15%. Scientists sound the alarm. Every year it gets worse and there are more and more people in our society suffer from this condition. The case does not only apply to adults but also to children.

Is it serious?

Obesity is considered a major risk factor for diseases such as type II diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, and even some malignant tumors. It may also be the cause of many mental disorders such as depression and significantly worsens the overall comfort of life. Therefore, effective and permanent treatment of this condition is critical. It is important to deny the harmful misconception that the cause of obesity is gluttony and laziness. Numerous factors have a negative impact on our figure. It is easiest to divide them into primary and secondary.

The main factors of overweight and obesity are:

  • improper nutrition – eating large amounts of high-calorie products, eating too quickly. It is also very dangerous to overfeed children,
  • lack of physical activity in everyday life,
  • psychoemotional disorders and living under constant stress – we often use food as another drug that helps us relieve our emotions,
  • genetic predisposition – many genes may play a role in the development of excessive body weight, while particular attention is paid to the unfavorable variant of FTO.

The secondary causes of obesity are diseases such as:

  • hypothyroidism,
  • polycystic ovary syndrome,
  • Cushing’s syndrome,
  • turner syndrome,
  • long-term use of psychotropic, anti-epileptic, or anti-allergic drugs.

The A allele

But let’s get back to the main topic of this article, which is the gene responsible for obesity. The results of the first scientific research on the FTO gene were published in 2007. It is located on the sixteenth chromosome and the results of the research confirmed the correlation between the unfavorable variant of the FTO gene and body weight. An unfavorable variant means the presence of the A allele. Alleles are different variants of the same gene or segments of DNA. This issue has also become the subject of scientific research in children’s health – the results confirmed that the unfavorable variant increases the risk from early childhood, but has no effect on birth weight. Studies have also shown that having the A allele can affect appetite and satiety. Carriers of the A allele had a significantly lower sense of satiety and a 25% higher food intake compared to people without the A allele. If we want to check whether we are the owners of this life-threatening genetic combination, we must undergo DNA tests. Remember that we will not change our genetics, but it’s nothing terrible.


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