Dr. Tony Goldstone from Imperial College London in UK and his colleagues have found two genetic variants that seem to influence whether an individual chooses high or low calorie foods. The team conducted DNA genotyping on 45 white European adults ranging from age 19 to 55 in order to identify the presence of the FTO gene, which plays a role in the regulation of dopamine in the brain, the reward hormone. These participants ranged in their body mass from 19.1 kg/m2 to 53.1 kg/m2, ranging from healthy to obese.
The participants were asked to view piectures of high and low calorie foods and rate how appealing they were, and an MRI was used to analyze their brain activity.
It was found that those who posessed some variant near the FTO gene and rated the high calorie foods as more appealing demonstrated greated activity in the orbitofrontal cortex as well as the striatum depending on the DRD@ gene variant they possessed.
They suggest that individuals with the FTO gene may be at a greater risk for obesity early beccause thy experience more cravings than the average person for high calorie foods.
Some treatments have been suggested after this study, such as using gut hormones that target dopamine cells in the brain to alter the hormone's influence on cravings.
The study helps researchers to better understand the biological behaviors that lead to obesity.