Obesity Genes


About half the risk of obesity is determined by the genes people carry, and half of that risk is determined by eight to 10 genes, Christman said. So, the just identified genetic variant, which sits on chromosome 2, is associated with about 5 percent of obesity, he said.

The variant is present in about 10 percent of people around the world, the researchers reported. It is physically close to a gene designated INSIG2, which is involved in fat metabolism. That location suggests it could influence the functioning of the INSIG2 gene, which produces a protein that inhibits production of fatty acid and cholesterol, the researchers said. But more work is needed to say exactly how the relationship between the genes works.

The discovery was made by applying data from the Human Genome Project to people in the long-running Framingham Heart Study and then verifying the relationship in other groups of people around the world, Christman said.


“We think the other nine or so genes will be found very soon,” Christman said. “Others are doing the same thing. Ours is one of the first, but there will be a flood of these over the next several years.”

Every week it seems there are new papers published on genes that influence behavior, including eating disorders – anorexia, for example. So, there should be no surprise that genes governing molecular pathways can alter the manner in which fat is metabolized and produced, leading some individuals to gain weight more easily than others.

There’s also no question that a key factor in familial obesity can also be linked to the type of food your Momma cooked for you – as any survey of shopping carts at the grocery checkout will attest to.

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Kate McMillan
About Kate McMillan
Kate McMillan is the proprietor of small dead animals, which has won numerous awards including Best Conservative Blog and Best Canadian Blog. She contributed nearly 300 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and June 2007. Follow her on Twitter @katewerk.


  1. Brian J. says:

    Somehow, I doubt that this will slow down the fatty food lawsuit juggernaut. Science is one thing; litigation is entirely another.

  2. M. Murcek says:

    I guess people of a certain ideological bent will be in trouble if the “believes in a free lunch” gene is ever found…

  3. McGehee says:

    This is as good an opening as any for a Good News/Bad News joke…

    Good news: Scientists mapping the human genome have identified the genes rsponsible for stupidity.

    Bad news: The genes in question take up 99.9% of the genome.

  4. Bithead says:

    The only genes you can fit into, after a while.


  5. whatever says:

    Well, this means that the other half of obesity is caused by people sitting on their asses stuffing their face with food all day.

    I can say this since I have lost (and kept off) 40 lbs two years ago. And sort of like ex-smokers, I am a little over the top when I see people who are already overweight sitting at an airport McDonalds stuffing their face with crap that has thousands of calories in it.

    But the fact of the matter is that I got trim and slim by doing nothing more than exercising regularly and making some common sense changes in what I eat every day. I didn’t “diet” and these two simple things melted weight off – and kept it off – pretty easily.