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'Fat' gene's discovery give hope to the obese

May 08, 2008 07:00 PM IST India India

New Delhi: If you are overweight, you can blame it on your 'fat' gene. British scientists have identified a specific 'fat' gene called FTO that makes people, especially people of Indian origin more prone to obesity, diabetes and heart attack. This also explains why some people easily put on weight while others with similar lifestyles remain slim. “Those people who have this gene, given the same diet will develop more obesity than the people who do not have this gene,” explained Dr Anoop Mishra, a senior consultant in internal medicine. The FTO gene comes in two varieties. Sixteen per cent of people have two copies of the high-risk variant gene: 50 per cent have one high-risk and one low-risk variant, and 34 per cent of people have two low-risk variants Those with two high-risk copies have a 70 per cent greater chance of obesity than those with two low-risk copies. They even weigh three kg more, on an average. Those with one high-risk copy have a 30 per cent greater risk of obesity. They weigh an average of 1.2 kg more However, it is not the fat gene alone that makes people obese – lifestyle is also a factor. “The number of fat cells remain the same but that makes it all the more important for us to be extra careful about our diet and exercise, because the type of food that you eat will increase the size of fat cells,” explained nutritionist Dr Ritika Samaddar. The good news is that the FTO gene might help design drugs that would help obese people control their weight. Even though these findings are in a nascent stage, they're a source of great hope and excitement, both for the researchers as well as for people suffering from obesity.

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