Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Children’s Obesity Clinic of the Holbæk Hospital’s Department of Pediatrics examined how genetics affect the ability of children and young people to lose excess weight. Obesity continues to dominate the area of research because increasingly, there has been a rise in obesity-related diseases—heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer. Unintended consequences of obesity intrigue researchers around the world.
The objective of the researchers was to determine the influence of specific gene variants on the weight loss ability of children and adolescents. The 15 specific gene variants involved in childhood obesity and prevalent in the population were therefore studied. The researchers showed that these genetic variants did not predict whether children and adolescents could lose weight when their lifestyles changed. In the MC4R gene, only children with a rare genetic mutation do not appear to lose weight during lifestyle intervention.
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The researchers examined 754 children and young people with overweight and obesity. The average age was 11.6 years, and the genetic profile of all participants was mapped. The researchers then calculated a childhood overweight genetic risk score by 15 genetic variants for each participant. Participants carried one or more of the 15 genetic variants associated with increased risk of obesity and childhood overweight. To determine whether a genetic predisposition to obese affected children and adolescents’ ability to lose weight, some lifestyle changes had to be implemented.
The research through light on the lifestyle changes had affected the weight of the participants, despite their genetic disposition for overweight and obesity. The treatment which the researchers have discovered helps people with genetic sensitivity. They believe that gives hope to people with obesity and obesity-related complications such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and fatty liver.
The genetic variants examined by researchers are common in the population and showed that they did not affect the ability to lose weight during the procedure. To date, researchers have found no biological markers for an inadequate response to lifestyle intervention, except for the rare MC4R gene associated with an inadequate response regarding weight loss following a lifestyle procedure.
Thus, identifying additional common genetic markers would help understand the biological pathways that affect obesity and the reaction of a person to changes in lifestyle.