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Obesity Resource Center

Obesity Genetic Research

Genetic Factors

Even though lifestyle factors are most associated with the prevalence of obesity, it’s important to know that several genetic predispositions may also exist. After all, there are many people who engage in little physical activity, as well as many who tend to overeat but are still unlikely to become obese during their lifetime.

Recent research has been able to compare obese individuals to non-obese individuals with respect to lifestyle and eating habits. They conclude that genetic variations may be responsible for prompting diet-related behaviors and/or increasing hunger sensitivity.[1]

Research is still ongoing, however, some have found that 40-70 percent of obesity risk factors could be linked to multiple genes. Those predisposed to such genes often begin to show symptoms of excessive weight gain in early childhood.

One gene in particular, called the Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated Gene (FTO) is found in up to 43 percent of the population and can biologically cause:

  • Abnormal hunger
  • Higher caloric intake
  • Reduced ability to control portions and become full
  • Increased body fat storage[2]

If you’ve suffered from obesity since early childhood, you can be tested by DocTalkGo for the FTO gene. Keep in mind that treatment is typically similar to medical weight loss with diet modifications and prescription options to assist with behavioral control.

The field of gene research with regards to obesity has expanded within the past few years. Researchers have identified many genes which impact both biochemistry and specific behaviors that may contribute to weight gain.

The genes which regulate obesity play important roles in everything related to energy metabolism from signaling hunger or fullness, breaking down food, and secretion of hormones and neurotransmitters which relate to digestion. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 40–70% of inter-individual variability in BMI (body mass index), which is a physiological measure used to assess obesity, can be attributed to genetics.

Besides FTO, 18 possible gene mutations of the LEPR gene (which codes for a protein responsible for leptin hormone receptors) can be responsible for a number of obesity-related factors such as, uncontrolled hunger, excess weight gain and decreased satiety.

Some other specific genes where small mutations can cause weight gain tendencies include:

AGRP
CPE
GHRL
GLP1R
HTR2A
NPY1R
NPY5R
SOCS3
STAT3

Testing for any of these genetic markers can play a major role in the treatment and prevention of obesity.

SINGLE GENES KNOWN TO BE INVOLVED WITH OBESITY

NAME GENE MIM MODE of INHERITANCE CHROMOSOMAL POSITION
Leptin LEP 164160 AR 7q32.1
Leptin receptor LEPR 601007 AR 1p31.2
Proopiomelanocortin POMC 176830 AR 2p23.2
Melanocortin 4 receptor MC4R 155541 AD/AR 18q21.32
Single-minded Drosophila Homologue-1 SIM1 603128 AD 6q16.3
Nurotrophic Tyrosine Kinase Receptor Type 2 NTRK2 600456 AD 9q21.33
Kinase suppressor of Ras2 KSR2 610737 AD 12q24.22-q24.23
Carboxypeptidase CPE 114855 AD 4q32.3
Proconvertase 1 PCSK1 162150 AR 5q15
Brain Derived Neurotropic factor BDNF 113505 AD 11p14.1
SH2B adaptor protein SH2B1 608937 AD 16p11.2
Tubby, Homogue of Mouse TUB 601197 AR 11p15.4

 

AD=Autosomal dominant, AR = Autosomal recessive.

 
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References

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/resources/diseases/obesity/index.htm
[2] https://obesitymedicine.org/obesity-and-genetics/