Gene variant increases obesity risk

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A number of Healthier Lives researchers have contributed to our understanding of a new discovery published in Nature Genetics.

US researchers investigating the genetic contribution to obesity have discovered a gene variant on chromosome 5 that increases fat storage and obesity risk in the Samoan population. They estimate that this may increase an individual’s risk of becoming obese by about 35%.

The specific gene variant is rare and may only account for 2% of the variation of body mass index amongst Samoans. Unexpectedly their findings indicated that those with the gene variant were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

The Science Media Centre sought commentary from a number of Healthier Lives experts to interpret these findings.

Director of Healthier Lives, Professor Jim Mann:

“This is a fascinating discovery but it is important to emphasize that it is not going to help the public health problem resulting from diabetes and obesity anytime soon.

“Public health measures aimed at reducing intake of inappropriate foods are still the only hope in the immediate future.”

Commentary was also provided by:

  • Dr Lisa Te Morenga
  • Professor Peter Shepherd
  • Dr Rinki Murphy
  • Dr Ofa Dewes

Read the Science Media Centre’s post:

Obesity-linked gene discovered in Samoa—Expert reaction

Read the original scientific article in Nature Genetics:

A thrifty variant in CREBRF strongly influences body mass index in Samoans