Jan 21, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Study Found How "Obesity Gene" Works

Aug 24, 2015 07:29 PM EDT

Obesity is a worldwide problem affecting almost 500 million people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the USA alone, almost 35 percent of the adults are obese. And it is prevalent among middle-aged adults (about 40 percent) compared with younger adults (30.3 percent) and those aged 60 or above (35.4 percent). Overweight and obesity are predisposing factors to other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Most assume that obesity is people's choice to eat excessively and exercise less. However, this newly published research from scientists from MIT and Harvard University found that a certain FTO gene, fat mass and obesity-associated protein or also called alpha-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase FTO, could be a factor that affects obesity. This breakthrough can help people deal differently with obesity.

The research revealed that obesity could result from a faulty version or a glitch of the FTO gene where instead of converting and using food as energy, this gene rather than burning them are storing them as fat. In the study conducted, it appears that this gene hinders functions of two other genes, namely, determining whether fats are brown (burns calories) or white (stores calories) and controlling thermogenesis. Experiment revealed that blocking the function of FTO gene surprisingly increased burning of energy in fat cells.

Although they admitted that it might take long time to create a drug-based solution, this has already shred a new hope to another approach of dealing with obesity. "You now have a pathway for drugs that can make those fat cells work differently," said Dr. Clifford Rosen, scientist at Maine Medical Research Institute. However, it is emphasize that that this is not a magic pill that will exempt people from binging to unhealthy diet.

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