We all know that obesity is highly heritable – from parent to child to grandchild, etc…
And while I believe that we should be focusing our attention on the epigenetic effects of our lifestyle and environment, there is still some pretty cool genetic research going on.
And this study is definitely cool.
Using genetic resequencing, researchers have identified DNA variants in two nervous system genes that are associated with an excessively high BMI.
According to study author Kelly Frazer, “we sequenced two intervals encoding the enzymes FAAH and MGLL which modulate the levels of endocannabinoids present in the brain and peripheral tissues that are involved in the regulation of energy balance and appetite. The level of these endocannabinoids is high in obese patients, and thus these two enzymes provide strong candidates to examine for a genetic association with BMI”.
And for everybody who has ever inhaled, you know the effect that endocannabinoids can have on your appetite.
Using genetic resequencing, the researchers identified four regions associated with BMI: the FAAH promoter, MGLL promoter, MGLL intron 2, and an enhancer in the MGLL intron 3.
Further testing revealed rare variants associated with increased levels of endocannabinoids in the plasma, which is consistent with previous findings.
According to Frazer, “This is one of the first studies to use the new sequencing technologies to link rare and low frequency variants to a complex trait such as obesity and will be of particular interest to understand more comprehensively the role of inheritance in obesity, a rapidly rising serious health issue across the world”.
Or, in layman’s terms…some of us have a genetic predisposition to higher levels of endocannabinoids in our brain & nervous system. This may lead to a genetically elevated appetite…which may lead to a greater sense of hunger…which may lead to overeating….which may lead to obesity.
The operative word being may.
Because, even if you have this genetic predisposition, there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.
With our current understanding of obesity, it still comes down to lifestyle choices.
But, this genetic resequencing stuff is still pretty cool.