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Gene Mutation Predicts Future Weight Gain

Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 05:15PM by Registered CommenterPennino Corp. CEO | Comments1 Comment | References35 References

Gene mutation predicts future weight gain

It would be nice to blame that chubby belly on genes rather than greed. And indeed, a new study suggests that a gene mutation can cause people to overeat.

But things are never that simple. The same study shows that people with the standard gene can also put on weight if their brains get a bigger hit from snacking.

The common mutation, in a gene called DRD2 that senses a pleasure-providing brain chemical called dopamine, causes people to get less of a high from food - and then compensate by eating more.

"Eating the same éclair is going to be less rewarding to obese people than to lean people," says Eric Stice, a clinical psychologist at Oregon Research Institute in Eugene who led the study.

His team scanned the brains of 43 female university students and 33 teenage girls as they sipped a chocolate milkshake or a tasteless substitute while in a functional-MRI machine.

In all the participants, the milkshake lit up an area of the brain called the striatum that senses rewards, whether food, drugs or money.

Scant reward

Women and girls with a higher body mass index (BMI) - an indicator of obesity - saw less striatum activity from the milkshake than skinny participants with low numbers. In other words, overweight women with and without the mutation get less of a hit from the food they eat.

This difference was even starker in women with the gene mutation that blunts the brain's response to dopamine. Previous research has shown that people with the mutation are more likely to be obese.

To see the mutation in action, Stice's team weighed the teens a year later. On average, their BMI's jumped by 3.6% - a difference of about 2.5 kilograms for a 170 centimetre-tall woman initially weighing 70 kg.

Girls with the mutation gained more weight the less active their striata were, Stice's team found. But conversely, girls with normal copies of DRD2 gained more weight the more their striata lit up.

When the team looked at all the subjects together, high BMI correlated with low striata activation.

Read the rest of the article:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14964-gene-mutation-predicts-future-weight-gain.html?feedId=online-news_rss20

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Reader Comments (1)

Wonderful post... Very informational and educational as usual!

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February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJay B.

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