Study leader Dr. Tony Goldstone, from Imperial College London in the UK, and colleagues have identified two genetic variants that influence whether we opt for high-calorie or low-calorie foods - a finding that that could open the door to more personalized treatment options for obesity. Dr. Goldstone and his colleagues set out to determine whether a person's food choices may be influenced by certain genetic variants. They conducted DNA genotyping on 45 European adults aged 19-55 to identify the presence of variants near two genes: the FTO gene, which has been associated with obesity predisposition, and the DRD2 gene, which plays a role in the regulation of dopamine in the brain. The subjects had a body mass index (BMI) ranging from 19 kg to 53.1 kg. Those subjects were asked to view pictures high and low-calorie foods and rate how appealing they were, while the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to view brain activity.
They found that the participants who possessed a variant near the FTO gene and who rated the high calorie foods as more appealing demonstrated greater activity in a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex. Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that individuals who possess the FTO gene may be at greater risk for obesity because dopamine signals trigger a sense of craving and reward in the presence of unhealthy foods. Dr. Goldstone says "It means they may experience more cravings than the average person when presented with high-calorie foods leading them to eat more of these foods." The study team suggests using gut hormones that target dopamine cells in the brain to alter the hormone's influence on cravings for high-calorie foods.
Obesity, basically, means having to much body fat and is different from overweight, which means weighing too much. Obesity occurs when over time when you eat more calories than you use. From this study, the team suggests that people who have the FTO gene may have a risk for obesity because of the dopamine triggers a sense of craving. This is very interesting because I had no idea obesity could be traced to the genetic level. This finding could be very beneficial to more treatments in the future, and may help stop obesity. More than a third of adults in the US, 78.6 million people, are obese and this study could help bring that number down because obesity can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many more harmful diseases. This study helped me open my eyes about what foods to eat.
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