Study Points to Existence of 'Skinny Genes'

James Marshall
January 28, 2019

By age five, nearly one in four children is either overweight or obese.

While it is notable that adjustments in our condition, for example, easy access to high-calorie foods and sedentary lifestyle, have driven the ascent in heftiness as of late, there is impressive individual variety in load inside a populace that has a similar environment.

We all have a friend who seems to eat and eat and eat without putting on a single pound. The researchers say the results are important to understand obesity and counteract the characteristics often attached to overweight people, such as being lazy or lacking willpower. Three out of four of them came from families whose members also had a tendency to be thin and healthy. Studies of twins have shown that variation in body weight is largely influenced by our genes.

Certain DNA helps decide whether weight gain is a torment or not for people, British researchers report. "Some of this is down to genes, but other factors like individual differences in lifestyle or gut microbes are likely to also be responsible", Spector said. The identification and recruitment of this cohort was supported by the National Institute for Health Research.

In order to look into the link between genes and weight, Farooqi's team compared the DNA of around 14,000 people.

Stock image: A person's body weight could be associated with their genes, researchers believe.

The team found several common genetic variants already identified as playing a role in obesity.

Their work reveals newly discovered genetic regions linked to being very slim.

The thin people, on the other hand, had a much lower genetic risk score. "The genetic dice are loaded against them", said Dr Inês Barroso's of the Wellcome Sanger Institute. To determine a person's genetic risk score, researchers then added up the different genetic variants and found the results corresponded with their weight today.

The first large study of the genetics of skinny people has shown that they largely have their DNA to thank for it - and not "moral superiority". "It's easy to rush to judgment and criticize people for their weight, but the science shows that things are far more complex".

"We have far less control over our weight that we might wish to think".

Interested in why some people find it easier to stay slim than others, researchers at Cambridge University, along with support from the Wellcome and the European Research Council, set up the Study Into Lean and Thin Subjects (STILTS), recruiting healthy United Kingdom adults aged 18 to 65 who were thin - defined as a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18 kg/m2 - and with no medical conditions or eating disorders.

But while the study challenges some people's assumptions of overweight people as lazy or unmotivated, Dr. Steve Mowle, honorary treasurer at the Royal College of Global Positioning System in the United Kingdom, told CNN that, "We do know that there are a host of other factors, other than genetics, at play in determining a patient's weight, such as diet and how often they exercise".

Simply put, the thin people had genes keeping them slim while also having less of the genes linked to being overweight.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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