Monday, September 10, 2012

Severe Childhood Obesity Linked To Missing DNA

Researchers in the UK have linked cases of severe childhood obesity to missing DNA that runs in families, whereby members missing the vital genetic chunk are severely obese from a young age, have a strong drive to eat and put on weight very easily; the missing DNA, called SH2B1, is located on chromosome 16 and plays an important role in regulating weight and blood sugar.

The finding has implications for the diagnosis and care of severely obese children, whose condition may be misattributed to abuse, said the researchers.

The study, thought to be the first to show this kind of genetic deletion can cause obesity, is the work of Dr Sadaf Farooqi from the University of Cambridge and Dr Matt Hurles from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and colleagues, and was published online in the journal Nature on 6 December.

Obesity is on the rise and has become a major public health concern all over the world. Although the increase in the last 30 years is most likely driven by environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle, our genes also play an important part, for instance in determining why some of us are more likely to put on weight than others.

For the study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Farooqi, Hurles and colleagues scanned the entire genomes of 300 severely obese children for mutations in copy number variants (CNVs), large segments of DNA that are either copied or missing in our genes, and which scientists suggest play a vital role in the development of genetic diseases.

They compared them to the genome information of over 7,000 controls, apparently healthy volunteers from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2.

The results showed that the children with severe obesity had some CNVs that were different to the controls. The finding has implications for the diagnosis and social care of severely obese children, whose condition may incorrectly be attributed to abuse by their parents or carers.

For instance, some of the children in the study had been placed on the Social Services "at risk" register because it was assumed that their parents were deliberately overfeeding them: they are now no longer on the register, according to a press statement from the University of Cambridge.



Severe Childhood Obesity Linked To Missing DNA



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home