Blood samples find 74 genetic regions influence weight gain

Being fat really IS in your genes: Scientists uncover another 74 genetic mutations that could make you prone to obesity

  • King’s College London scientists monitored levels of key molecules in the blood
  • These included vitamins and amino acids and are released when food is digested
  • Researchers said the paper offered hope for ‘turning the tide’ on obesity 

Obesity really could be hard-wired into our genes, yet another scientific study has suggested.

Academics have for years argued that obesity isn’t only driven by a lack of exercise and over-eating. 

And now King’s College London scientists have unearthed more proof that lazy and junk food-laden lifestyles aren’t solely to blame.

They discovered proof that dozens of areas of human DNA can influence the body’s metabolism, which plays a crucial role in weight loss. 

But the new study, considered the largest of its kind, uncovered 74 genetic regions that were not known to help the body burn calories. 

Experts say the discovery could ‘turn the tide’ on obesity by allowing them to design diet plans more tailored to someone’s genes.

Around 35million UK adults are thought to be overweight, figures suggest. In the US 70million adults are considered fat.

Obesity is known to drive up the risk of several conditions, including cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

 A study has added to a growing body of evidence that some people are genetically pre-disposed to being overweight (stock image)

For the study, King’s College London researchers took blood samples from almost 9,000 volunteers.

They searched for levels of 722 different metabolites — substances made when the body breaks down food. 

All of the participants also had their entire genome sequenced, allowing experts to pinpoint areas of their DNA linked to the different metabolites. 

The NHS lists the below as causes of obesity 

Poor diet: This could include eating a lot of fast food, drinking too much alcohol or regularly eating out.

Lack of physical activity: Eating more calories than you burn in a day will lead to weight gain.

Genetics: There is some evidence genes are involved in obesity, they say, but they do not make it impossible to lose weight

Medical reasons: Conditions including an underactive thyroid can make people more likely to gain weight. 

Results revealed that mutations in 202 different regions of DNA were linked to the majority of the metabolites’ levels. 

This included 74 that had never been spotted before in previous obesity-fighting genetic research. 

The findings were then confirmed in a separate group of 1,800 participants. 

Not all metabolites made play a role in weight loss but some were clearly linked to BMI, the researchers said.

Metabolites are the end result of internal chemical reactions the body makes to break down food and convert it to energy — a process known as the metabolism. 

Previous research has shown that having a slow metabolism makes it harder to lose weight because it burns less calories while resting.

Boosting the metabolism through a more active lifestyle is considered to be a key method for losing weight.  

Dr Massimo Mangino, a geneticist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital also involved in the research, said the results could help ‘turn the tide’ on obesity.

‘Obesity is one of the most common conditions, and yet there’s still so much we need to understand about its biological mechanisms,’ he said.

‘Our latest findings may help to unravel some of them.

He added: ‘Genetic studies hold real promise in helping us find new treatments for obesity.

‘By teasing out the complex relationships between different genes, we have a huge opportunity to turn the tide against this condition.’

The study was published in the journal Metabolites.

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