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Researchers find “genetic trigger” that can lead to obesity

Obesity isn’t just a matter of diet and exercise — it may be in your genetic code, according to new research.

“The causes of obesity are very complex and, in most cases, result from a combination of many factors. In this study, however, we found a clear genetic trigger for obesity,” says study lead author Dr. Mattia Frontini, senior fellow at the British Heart Foundation and associate professor in cell biology at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, in an e-mail.

The researchers used data from the UK Biobank, a large biomedical database and research resource that follows people long-term, according to the study published on Thursday (20) in the journal Med. They compared data from people with two defective copies of a specific gene (SMIM1) with those who did not have both defective copies.

Women with the genetic mutation weighed an average of 4.6 pounds more, and men with the variant weighed 2.4 pounds more, according to the study.

Faulty copies of the SMIM1 gene cause a decrease in thyroid function and a reduction in energy expenditure, says Frontini, “which means that given the same food intake, less energy is used and this excess is stored as fat.”

Not only is the correlation significant, but this study also identifies a specific genetic mutation, which is not always the case in research, according to Dr. Philipp Scherer, director of the Touchstone Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He was not involved in the study.

“It’s an exciting study because it puts a new gene on the map,” says Scherer. “It’s a real gene, rather than just a genomic locus with a mutation somewhere that we don’t understand. … We think we’re looking at a gene here that we can study further.”

Rare genetic condition

This particular genetic discovery doesn’t apply to a large population of people with obesity — only about 1 in 5,000 people have this genetic makeup, according to Frontini.

“That’s quite rare, but you multiply that out to a population of 10 (million), 15 million and there are a lot of people out there who could walk around with this mutation and maybe not be fully aware of the fact that there is a genetic explanation for their struggle. against obesity,” says Scherer.

Thyroid dysfunction is common, affecting almost 2% of the population in the UK, says Frontini, and is regularly treated with relatively inexpensive medication, the expert adds.

The next step in the research is to find out whether people with the SMIM1 mutation qualify to treat their thyroid with medication, he says.

“If they qualify, we plan to conduct a randomized clinical trial to determine whether they would benefit from treatment,” says Frontini. “The hope is that they will, and that we can improve their quality of life using an inexpensive and safe treatment.”

Best approach

Weight is not just a matter of willpower or laziness. The size and shape of your body is determined by many factors—some of which you can control and some of which you cannot, depending on the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Among these factors are lifestyle habits, the amount of sleep you get, medications, health problems, where you live and work, and genetics, according to the institute.

Research into genetic factors and possible treatments is still ongoing, but Scherer said the best current approach to medically treating obesity is GLP-1 drugs.

Severely restrictive diets are not the answer, says Brooke Alpert, registered dietitian and author of “The Diet Detox: Why Your Diet Is Making You Fat and What to Do About It.” get fat and what to do about it”), in a previous article on CNN International.

Overly demonizing foods can make you crave them even more, and the guilt you feel when you give in can lead to a cycle of fluctuating between restricting yourself and bingeing, he added.

If you want to make changes to your lifestyle, it’s best to try a gradual, sustainable approach while maintaining a healthy relationship with food, says Emily Feig, a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, in the same report. CNN .

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Source: CNN Brasil

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