Size zero could be down to genes

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  • New research suggests that being naturally skinny or overweight could be down to two sides of the same genetic coin rather than diet

    Plenty of genes have been discovered to help explain obesity, but scientists have found that skinny people possess extra copies of extra genes, which could explain their naturally thin frames.

    The identified gene is part of a group of 28 genes. In one in 2,000 people, these genes are abnormally duplicated resulting in carriers failing to put on weight as normal.

    ‘If we can work out why gene duplication in this region causes thinness it might throw up new potential treatments for obesity and appetite disorders,’ says Chief scientist Professor Philippe Froguel from the School of Health at Imperial College London.

    ‘We now plan to sequence these genes and find out what they do so we can get an idea of which ones are involved in regulating appetite.’

    The study found that people with too many copies of these 28 genes tended to be underweight with a body mass index lower than 18.5, instead of a health BMI between 18.5 and 25.

    The research throws light on weight issues in children, too. Half of children with the genetic duplication had been diagnosed with a non-specific condition called ‘failure to thrive.’

    ‘This shows that failure to thrive in childhood can be genetically driven,’ says Professor Froguel. ‘If a child is not eating, it’s not necessarily the parents fault.’

    Last year, the same researchers discovered that people with a missing copy of these genes were 43 times more likely to be morbidly obese.


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