It could be in your DNA. A gene variant that increases a person’s obesity risk by 30 to 40 per cent is the strongest genetic predictor of body weight discovered in humans so far.
Having just one copy of a particular variant of a gene called CREBRF is associated with a 1.5 increase in BMI. For a person weighing 83 kilograms who is 1.75 metres tall, this is the equivalent of putting on 4.6 further kilograms.
The genetic variant was uncovered during a genomic analysis of more than 5000 people in Samoa, where obesity rates are among the highest in the world. Ryan Minster at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and his team found that a quarter of Samoans carry this variant, which may have evolved during their history of colonising the South Pacific.
The CREBRF variant appears to be rare in other populations, but studying how the gene works may help researchers better understand obesity.
However, the team found no association between the gene variant and diabetes, even though the two conditions normally go hand in hand.
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