Genes Associated With Childhood Obesity Identified In Largest Ever Study

A large international collaborative study has identified at least two new gene variants that increase the risk of common childhood obesity.

AsianScientist (May 1, 2012) – An international collaborative study conducted by the Early Growth Genetics (EGG) Consortium has identified at least two new gene variants that increase the risk of common childhood obesity.

The study, to date the largest ever genome-wide analysis of common childhood obesity, involved 5,530 cases of childhood obesity and 8,300 control subjects of normal weight, all of European ancestry.

In the latest online issue of Nature Genetics, the researchers identified two novel loci associated with common childhood obesity, one near the OLFM4 gene on chromosome 13 and the other within the HOXB5 gene on chromosome 17.

Two other gene variants were also found to be linked to obesity, and none of the four gene loci were previously implicated in common childhood obesity.

“Previous studies have focused on more extreme forms of obesity primarily connected with rare disease syndromes, while this study includes a broader range of children,” said Associate Professor Craig Pennell of the University of Western Australia. “We have identified and characterized two new genetic variants that are associated with a predisposition to common childhood obesity.”

Established research indicates that obese adolescents tend to have a higher risk of mortality when they are adults. Although environmental factors, such as food choices and sedentary habits, contribute to the increasing rates of obesity in childhood, twin studies and other family-based evidence have suggested a genetic component as well.

While previous studies have identified gene variants contributing to obesity in adults and in children with extreme obesity, relatively little is known about genes implicated in regular childhood obesity.

“This work opens up new avenues to explore the genetics of childhood obesity,” Pennell said. “A great deal of work remains, however, these findings may ultimately be useful in helping to design preventive interventions and treatments for children, based on their individual genomes.”

The article can be found at: Bradfield (2012) A Genome-Wide Association Meta-Analysis Identifies New Childhood Obesity Loci.

Source: University of Western Australia.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Anusuya Das received a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, and a B.A. in Bioelectrical/Cellular-Molecular Engineering from Arizona State University, USA. Anusuya is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Virginia, USA.

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