Is obesity in the genes?

Further research into the gene variation known as FTO has uncovered more information about its relationship with obesity.1

The study compared two groups of men - one group who carried two copies of the 'high risk' gene variant and the other with two copies of the 'low risk equivalent' - and found a notable difference with each group's relationship with food.

Those in the high risk group found it more difficult to subdue their levels of an appetite stimulant called acyl-ghrelin after they had eaten. Brain scans of the two groups also found differences in hormones and how their brains reacted to pictures of food.

The results allowed researchers to identify that this high-risk variant may encourage over-eating in those people with it. Of course, this does not completely answer the question as to why people over-eat but it does indicate that those with this gene variant may require more willpower to avoid temptation and stay healthy.


1. Karra E, O'Daly OG, Choudhury AI, et al. A link between FTO, ghrelin, and impaired brain food-cue responsivity. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Published online July 15 2013.