'Obesity Gene' May Make You Pig Out

A new study examines the link between obesity-associated genes and eating patterns

Genes may not determine obesity, but researchers say that a specific gene may affect what you eat and when you eat it.

According to a new study, specific variations on FTO and BDNF genes were associated with a higher risk of obesity. Part of this reason is because the two genes, linked in the parts of the brains that control eating and appetite, are also linked to obesity-related eating habits.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that some variations of the FTO gene seemed to cause carriers to eat more meals and snacks a day, and consume more fats, oils, and sweets.

Researchers also found that variations of the BDNF genes were associated with a higher diet of dairy, meat, eggs, nuts, and beans, with carriers eating 100 more calories a day.

Of course, this doesn't mean that genes predetermine obesity. "Our lifestyle choices are critical when it comes to determining how thin or heavy we are, regardless of your genetic traits," lead author Jeanne M. McCaffery said in a press release.

McCaffery hopes that these studies allow people at risk of obesity to pinpoint their health problems on dietary choices, taking control of their health. "We show that at least some of the genetic influence on obesity may occur through patterns of dietary intake," McCaffery said. "The good news is that eating habits can be modified, so we may be able to reduce one’s genetic risk for obesity by changing these eating patterns."

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