Newly described genetic variants curb appetite

Newly described genetic variants curb appetite

What if you just weren’t tempted by a mouthwatering pepperoni pizza? Or you could easily dismiss a spread of tasty cupcakes? Some people seem to do so effortlessly. Scientists writing in the journal Cell say they have identified a set of genetic variations that may explain such resolve. The variants dull a person’s appetite, making them less interested in eating than the average Jane or Joe.

The authors examined data from the U.K. Biobank, which contains results of genetic studies on more than a half-million people in the United Kingdom. They found people with the appetite-dulling genetic variants tend to be thin, and have little trouble controlling food consumption.

The gene in question is known as M-C-4-R. There are dozens of different variations in how it is expressed in our bodies. Some make the gene less effective at its job of regulating appetite. The researchers found these variations were tied to greater risk of obesity and other problems such as diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Some of the variations, however, ramp up the gene’s function. That results in lower odds of obesity, diabetes and coronary artery disease. Also, the increased gene function tended to improve resting heart rate and blood pressure readings.

The researchers say identifying these genetic variants may lead to new medications that could harnesses a body’s power to curb appetites. Think of it as a kind of superpower that helps you stay focused through summer barbecues and back-to-school bashes.

With some help from modern medicine, you soon may be able to tell those gooey cheese fries and ice cream sundaes: Sorry, I’m just not into you anymore.

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