Weight loss

Is Obesity all in the mind?

zone image BBC reports that scientists have discovered seven new genes that control appetite

We all know people who seem to be able to eat what they want and never put on weight, while the rest of us just have to look at a chocolate bar to pile on the pounds.

The standard answer to this puzzle is that these lucky people somehow have a "faster metabolism" and that is the key to their weight.

Well now new evidence suggests that in fact our appetites are controlled by genes that have effects on the brain. Scientists in two international studies examined DNA samples from thousands of people, looking for even the smallest genetic variation. What they found were seven genetic variations that all had an impact on weight, with a person who carried all the genes being around 1.5-2kg heavier than average.

All seven gene variations were discovered by a study by the Iclandic company deCode, while six of them were found by another international study.

While this study suggests that genetic factors play a big part in how easy we find it to control our appetites and thus our weight, we should also note that these genetic factors have been present in humans for a very long time and therefore do not explain the current growth in obesity in recent years.

This article was published on Tue 16 December 2008

Image © Knut Ekanger - Fotolia.com

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