A correlation between obesity and genetics has been found to be modified by diet, according to a scientific paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A research group led by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist found that a specific gene—APOA2—can result in a higher body mass index (BMI).
The APOA2 gene encodes a protein that is part of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, so-called “good” cholesterol. An epigenetic mark, which can be thought of as a type of natural chemical decoration on the genome that regulates gene activity, can be induced and modified by environmental factors, such as dietary intake and lifestyle habits.
Led by molecular biologist Chao-Qiang Lai from Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at Tufts University, Boston, the study found the same epigenetic mark also is likely associated with greater appetite, and this can result in greater food consumption and a higher BMI. This study is the first of its kind to take such an in-depth examination of a gene-diet interaction, one that pertains to obesity and the differential response to dietary saturated fat between individuals carrying variants of a specific gene, APOA2.
“Obesity is not simply a result of food intake alone. It is a product of genetic and environmental factors acting together,” says [author] Dr. Jose Ordovas.
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