Your Cravings for Sweets Could Be Coded in Your DNA, Study Says

Your Cravings for Sweets Could Be Coded in Your DNA, Study Says

DNA code could be contributing to obesity in some people.

Does it seem that you are unable to resist that high-calorie snack, while some of your friends are able to pass it by?  If so, you may be a victim of your own genetic make-up, according to a new study, cited on

Researchers from Imperial College London have identified two genetic variants that cause some people to choose higher-calorie foods when given a choice, and they are saying the discovery could lead to a different type of therapy for those who are overweight or obese, and possesss those types of gene variants.

With recent studies that say more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese, this new finding could help bring their obesity under control, and decrease the risk of deadly diseases associated with being overweight, such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

The research team looked for the presence of two genes in a group of 45 white European adults, ranging in age from 19 to 55 years of age.  One of the genes, the FTO gene, is associated with the predisposition of obesity, while the other, the DRD2 gene, contributes to the regulation of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that plays a part in your cravings.

The study participants were shown pictures of high-and low-calorie foods, while the researchers were monitoring their brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Study leader Dr. Tony Goldstone reports the participants experienced more cravings than the average person when they were shown the high-calorie foods, and they had a desire to consume more of the foods high in fat and/or sugar.

The findings show that those participants that possessed a variant near the FTO gene had a higher level of activity in the part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex.  And for the first time, they say found those participants preferring the high-calorie foods showed increased brain activity in the striatum, but they note this activity was associated with DRD2 gene variant they possessed.

The discovery could lead to a more personalized treatment for persons who are overweight and suffering from obesity, targeting their cravings and inability to resist high-calorie foods.  The study team suggested one such treatment, involving gut hormones to target dopamine cells to re-route the hormone’s influence on a person’s cravings.

The research team recently presented the results of their study at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California.

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