Genetic Inheritance

The Very Personal Genetic Inheritance of Obesity

The largest genetic map of obesity ever constructed promises to reveal much deeper insight into the very personal genetic inheritance of obesity. An international team of scientists have analyzed the genomes of more than a quarter million people. Some of the learning from this work is summarized by two papers published in Nature this week.

This research identified 97 sites in the human genome that are linked to obesity — three times the number that were previously known. Commenting on these findings, senior author  Elizabeth Speliotes said:

This makes it less likely that one solution to beat obesity will work for everyone. Right now we use gender and age to make general recommendations about healthy living and weight. But this type of genetic information we hope will one day help us give more tailored advice.

Simplistic concepts of obesity slavishly focused on diet and exercise behaviors alone are beginning to seem quaint. The best estimates are that between 50 and 70 percent of the risk of obesity is inherited. Our surroundings and our choices do the rest. People who are profoundly affected by obesity have known for some time that they are dealing with a genetic inheritance.

Science is catching up. Better treatment will follow.

Click here to read more from BBC News, here to read more from Time. Click here and here to read the two papers.

Genetic Inheritance, photograph © Patrik Nygren / flickr

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