Researchers Identify 2 Childhood Obesity Genes

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Childhood obesity for some kids may be triggered by two genetic variations, according to a new study. Although poor food choices and lack of exercise are often blamed for the country’s burgeoning childhood obesity epidemic, the researchers behind the new study say a genetic component may also share some responsibility.

“This is the largest-ever genome-wide study of common childhood obesity,” study author Dr. Struan F.A. Grant, associate director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a written statement. “As a consequence, we have definitively identified and characterized a genetic predisposition to common childhood obesity.”

The researchers looked at 14 earlier studies that included 5,500 obese kids and 8,300 healthy control subjects. By genotyping the DNA from children with obesity, the researchers found two novel variations — one near a gene on the 13th chromosome and the other near chromosome 17 — that had never been previously implicated in other studies as related to obesity. The genes might be tied to intestinal function, but the researchers aren’t certain.

The genes are “very common in the population,” Grant told HealthDay. The genes can be identified in adults but express much weaker, suggesting the genes’ biggest impacts are during the first years of life.

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