Researchers Find Genes May ‘Snowball’ Obesity


Source: McMaster University

Summary: Researchers in a new study found that there are nine genes that make you gain more weight if you already have a high body mass index.


Body mass index (BMI) is a measure body fat based on a person’s height and weight. Even though the increasing average BMI of the population in high-income countries has recently reached a stable level but the cases of extreme forms of obesity are still growing. Morbidly obese people are at the risk of many health complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancers and early death. Researchers from the McMaster University in a new study found that there are nine genes that make you gain more weight if you already have a high body mass index. The study findings were published in the journal American Journal of Human Genetics.

genes that make you gain more weight if you already have a high body mass index

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In addition to the lifestyle factors such as unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, genetic factors play a significant role with 50% – 80% of BMI is related to genetics. In a study, researchers looked at 37 genes that are well established in regulating the body mass in 75,230 adults with European ancestry and found 9 genes with snowball effect (a tiny snowball at a top of a hill that becomes bigger and bigger when rolling down the hill). The researchers had an important message that the carriers of these genes, if they stay in the low end of body mass index through appropriate lifestyle, may minimize the effect of the snowball obesity genes.

Senior author, David Meyre said, “These genes may, in part, explain why some individuals experience uncontrolled and constant weight gain across their life, despite the availability of different therapeutic approaches”, “The plausible explanation is that there are interactions between the snowball obesity genes and risk environmental factors.”


More Information: Arkan Abadi et al. Penetrance of Polygenic Obesity Susceptibility Loci across the Body Mass Index Distribution, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.10.007


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