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Do I Look Fat In These Genes?

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have identified genes that appear to play a role in our inability to stop eating food when we’re sufficiently satiated.

The mutation of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) genes, which scientists call C allele genes, may actually make it difficult for people to recognize when they are full. The reason for this is the BDNF gene regulates appetite, and the mutation of the gene produces lower levels of the BDNF protein.

According to Dr. Jack Yanovski, both an author of the study and a National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigator, scientists have been studying the BDNF gene for years to learn how variations of the gene may actually predispose people to being overweight.

The BDNF gene has previously been linked to obesity, and scientists have been working for several years to understand how changes in this particular gene may predispose people to obesity.

In the study, researchers used brain tissue samples to identify naturally occurring genetic changes that caused fluctuations in the production of the BDNF protein.

According to The Daily Mail, researchers identified a mutation in the gene — a mutation that isn’t rare, and occurs throughout the general population — that dramatically reduced BDNF levels in the hypothalamus. High levels of BDNF in the hypothalamus will make the body feel full, while low levels, as you might expect, induce hunger.

Next, the effects of BDNF gene were studied in more than 31,000 participants in clinical research studies.

Information about the participants was collected, and was divided up into several groups including African American adults, healthy children, and Hispanic children. Across each demographic, those with the C allele gene were found to be more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI).

The study’s authors concluded that by boosting BDNF protein levels in those affected by the genetic mutation, it may counteract their predisposition to obesity and stimulate more healthy eating habits. This would create a unique weight loss opportunity for those struggling to lose weight.

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