"Gluttony Gene" May Cause Obesity

Denmark imposed a “fat tax” on foods on Saturday to curb unhealthy eating habits, with foods containing over 2.3 percent saturated fat to be hit by the tax.

 

Could the tendency to overeat be hardwired in your DNA? Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Centrebelieve it just might be. In an article published in the journal Nature Medicine, they reported that they believe they've discovered a "gluttony gene" which keeps your brain from letting you know you're full. In laboratory tests on mice, a mutation on a single gene caused the animals to gobble food non-stop and gain weight quickly.

Humans are known to have this gene as well and it has in fact been linked to obesity, but the Georgetown team is the first to find out how it works. If the gene is functioning as it should, chemical signals from leptin and insulin travel down a chain of brain cells and end up delivering the message to your hypothalamus that you've eaten enough. Then your appetite is suppressed until you actually need food as fuel again. But in the mice that had a mutation of the gene, the chemical signals were never transmitted.

According to MailOnline, lead author Dr Baoki Xu said: ‘This discovery may open up novel strategies to help the brain control body weight. We have opened the door to both new avenues in basic research and clinical therapies, which is very exciting."

The next step will be to look at whether the faulty transmission line can be modified to help prevent and treat obesity. Dr. Xu said the hope is that drugs might stimulate appetite suppressio in the brain. However, other researchers cautioned that it will be years before a solution to the problem found. 

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