A recent discovery may have a genetic explanation why some people are obese while others are not. According to scientists from Genetics and Genomics, Boston University Medical School, about 10% of humans have a sequence variation close to the INSIG2 gene.

You can read about this discovery in the journal Science (April 14).

Michael Christman, lead researcher in this study, said that this discovery helps us understand why some people are obese, but for the moment, it does not help us get anywhere nearer a genetic treatment for obesity. One day, perhaps.

INSIG2 is a gene that controls insulin – in fact, it is induced by insulin. It inhibits the synthesis (manufacturing in the body) of fatty acid and cholesterol. People with a sequence variation near the gene seem less able to inhibit the synthesis of fatty acid and cholesterol – in other words, these people tend to accumulate more fat in the body (they get fat more easily).

Scientists have long believed that a good percentage of obese people are so because of their genes. This is the first study to identify a genetic factor in obesity.

This news should come as a great relief to millions of obese people around the world, who for years have been puzzled and distressed at their never-ending war against flab – and wondering why they find it so hard. Perhaps being fat, for many people, is more to do with the way you were born, rather than with the way you conduct your life.

Christman added that although we have no idea how this may offer treatment today, it will be useful as a first step towards finding effective treatment one day. Once the molecular pathways of obesity are understood, he said, we will be nearer to effective treatment for obesity.

Obesity is becoming more and more prevalent in most parts of the world. Some say it is due to our eating habits, others say it is more to do with doing less exercise than we used to. The Atkins bunch tell us to eat fewer carbohydrates and blame the low fat bunch for the obesity spread, another association says we should eat less fat saying the Atkins bunch are just in it for the money, others say it is all down to ?food combining’. What all these ?gurus’ have in common is that they have made absolutely no difference to the speed at which obesity is spreading around the world – especially during the last ten years when all these ?breakthrough diets’ appeared. Fifty years ago people in the USA and UK used to consume, on average, more calories per day than we do today, but they were thinner – we know they were more physically active.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today