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Slow Metabolisms Lead to Obesity, Gene Study

Update Date: Oct 25, 2013 10:47 AM EDT

A possible genetic root cause of the insatiable appetite and metabolism has been discovered. Researchers say the latest findings will fight the ever-growing obesity rates in children.

More than two thousand people with severe early-onset obesity were sequenced. They found that patients harboring mutations in a particular gene, KSR2, had an increased appetite and a slower metabolism than people with a normal copy of the gene. 

The findings  also suggest that drugs developed to modulate the activity of the protein encoded by the KSR2 gene may carry the potential for treatment options for obesity as well as type–2 diabetes.

“Changes in diet and levels of physical activity underlie the recent increase in obesity; however, some people gain weight more easily than others” says study author Sadaf Farooqi of the University of Cambridge in a press release. “This variation between people is largely influenced by genetic factors. The discovery of a new obesity gene, KSR2, demonstrates that genes can contribute to obesity by reducing metabolic rate—how well the body burns calories.”

In the research it was also found that the gene KSR2 provided clues to how early-onset obesity can develop in some of the people. Previously the deletion of KSR2 was shown to cause obesity in the mice. This underlined the role of KSR2 in controlling the energy and balance metabolism.

“This work adds to a growing body of evidence that genes play a major role in influencing a person’s weight and may be useful for developing new ways to treat people who are heavy and develop diabetes” added Farooqi in the press release.

The study was published in the journal of Cell.

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