‘Apple-Shaped’ Body? ‘Pear-Shaped’? Your Genes May Tell
[HealthDay News, 2/18/19] A large, new study has uncovered 24 genetic variations that help separate the apple-shaped people from the pear-shaped ones.
Researchers said the findings help explain why some people are prone to carrying any excess weight around the belly. But more importantly, they could eventually shed light on the biology of diseases linked to obesity — particularly abdominal obesity.
While obesity is linked to a range of health conditions, excess fat around the middle seems to be a particular risk factor for certain diseases — like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“But we haven’t really known why,” said lead researcher Ruth Loos, a professor at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, in New York City.
So, her team dug into the genetics underlying body fat distribution. If researchers can learn about the important gene variants, Loos explained, they can better understand why some people develop diabetes or heart disease when they gain weight, while others do not.
The findings, published online Feb. 18 in Nature Genetics, come from a huge international research effort, looking at over 476,000 people at 70 research centers around the world.
Loos and her colleagues focused on hunting down so-called coding variations — differences within genes that have the potential to alter the way that genes and their proteins function.
In the end, the scientists discovered two dozen coding variations that were associated with body fat distribution. Some of those variations have already been linked to processes such as blood sugar control and fat metabolism.
In general, Loos said, genes linked to obesity can be separated into two broad groups. One group acts on the brain, influencing how much you eat by regulating hunger and satiety.
“The gene variations we identified in this study don’t act in the brain,” Loos said. “They work at the cellular level, determining where fat will be stored in the body.”
It all raises the possibility of developing medications that can “tweak” those genetic pathways so that body fat is redistributed in a healthier way, according to Loos…………..
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Jaelin Stickels, CNM, WHNP