Scientists may have discovered why some individuals are always hungry and just can't seem to shed the weight. British researchers have discovered a 'hungry gene' which they believe could cause obesity. The Cambridge University study has identified a possible genetic root to the insatiable appetite and slow metabolism in some people.
The study examined over 2,100 severely obese patients. They found those with mutations of a gene called KSR2 were hungrier and burned less calories than people with a normal copy of the gene.
Dr Sadaf Farooqi, of Cambridge University, said: 'Changes in diet and levels of physical activity underlie the recent increase in obesity.
'However, some people gain weight more easily than others. This variation between people is largely influenced by genetic factors.'The discovery of a new obesity gene, KSR2, demonstrates that genes can contribute to obesity by reducing the metabolic rate - i.e. how well the body burns calories.'
Dr Farooqi said the discovery could now provide clues to how obesity develops in children and help pave the wave for new drugs to treat the condition as well as type-2 diabetes, which is commonly linked with it.
Further experiments in cells showed the KSR2 mutations also impaired metabolic processes in the body, such as the breaking down of glucose and fatty acids, which produce energy. The study authors also found the diabetes drug metformin corrected the low levels of fatty acid oxidation in cells with the KSR2 gene, suggesting it could be a potential treatment in the future. 'This work adds to a growing body of evidence that genes play a major role in influencing a person's weight and may be useful for developing new ways to treat people who are heavy and develop diabetes.' Dr Farooqi added.
Anotherrogue stretch of DNA that stops us feeling full and craving sugary and fatty foods - the FTO gene - was discovered several years ago. The gene, carried by more than half of the population, prevents a drop in the hunger hormone ghrelin after eating.
The 16 per cent of the population that carries two copies of the rogue DNA are 70 per cent more likely to become obese than those without the gene.
They eat up to 200 extra calories a day and are almost half a stone heavier than their average counterparts. And for those with the ‘hunger gene’ dieting is doomed to failure.
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