Genes responsible for Childhood Obesity Identified

A study, conducted by the Early Growth Genetics (EGG) Consortium, an international collaborative group from North America, Australia, and Europe, has been able to identify at least two new gene variants which are responsible for the common childhood obesity. The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Genetics.

Earlier studies done in this field had identified the genes responsible for obesity in adults, and extreme obesity in children in certain disease conditions. This is for the first time that the genes associated with the common obesity encountered in children have been identified. For the present research, the results of 14 previous studies in this field were meta-analyzed. The studies covered in their fold, 5,530 children suffering from childhood obesity (body mass index more than 95th percentile) and 8,300 children (BMI less than 50th percentile) who acted as controls.

The researchers identified two new loci of genes which were responsible for common childhood obesity. The first locus was near the OLFM4 gene on chromosome number 13, whereas the other one was within the HOXB5 gene on chromosome number 17. According to Dr. Struan F.A. Grant, the lead investigator of the study and an associate director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the biology of these genes indicates that the intestines may be playing certain role in the development of the childhood obesity.

According to the researchers, the results of the present study will encourage many other studies to find out other genes responsible for obesity, and to design specific treatments and interventions for treating obesity in children on the basis of individual genomes. Obesity in children is a big problem and studies have shown that obese individuals have a higher mortality rate as adult. Apart from unhealthy food choices and sedentary lifestyle habits which have been associated with childhood obesity, the role of genetics has also come under the scanner.

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Date: 
Friday, April 20, 2012
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