JuJu says: Hey folks, meet New York Times’ Amy Harmon, writing here while working on a story and looking for your reactions. Write to her directly or comment below, or both! You can bet Jane and I will add our $.02… Opine, my lovelies. I will if you will….
Hi, I’m a reporter at the New York Times. I’m working on a story about how new information about genetics is increasingly altering our understanding of why we behave as we do in a number of areas. I’m looking for people to talk with about the recent news about a genetic connection to obesity. (see article below)
Do you think you have the gene? Does it help to explain why it might be hard for you to lose weight? I’d love to talk to someone who heard about the study and felt liberated to go out and eat whatever they wanted. I’m also looking for folks who might feel more hopeless about losing weight as a result. If you’re willing to share your reactions, please email me at email@example.com, and include a phone number where I can reach you with follow-up questions.
Thanks a lot,
p.s. I’ve pasted in below an article on the study. I know this is not the first study to find a genetic predisposition for obesity, but it seems to be the most conclusive to date.
New York Times
Study: New Gene Clue On Obesity
April 13, 2006
by Miranda Hitti
(WebMD) One in 10 people has a gene variant pattern linked to obesity, a new study shows.
But the researchers who spotted that gene variant stop short of chalking obesity up to genetics. At this point, they just report an “association” between the gene variant and obesity.
In other words, the scientists found the gene variant among obese people. But itís not clear if those people would have been slimmer without the gene variant.
The study, published in Science, comes from researchers including Alan
Herbert, M.BChB., Ph.D., of the genetics and genomics department at Boston Universityís medical school.
Probing the Genes
Herbertís team focused on genetics and body mass index (BMI) in five large groups of people.
First, the researchers checked the DNA and BMI of nearly 700 people whose parents had participated in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term study of heart health among people in Framingham, Mass.
Herbertís team found that when two copies of a particular gene variant were present, people had a higher BMI and were more likely to be obese. BMI is based on height and weight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese and a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight.
But the researchers didnít stop there. They wanted to see if the same gene variant cropped up in other studies of obesity, or if their finding had been a fluke.
The researchers repeated their analysis in four other groups, including almost 4,000 people of Western European ancestry, more than 2,600 whites from Poland and the United States, nearly 900 blacks living in Maywood, Ill., and more than 2,700 participants in the long-term Nurses Health Study.
The same gene variant was linked to obesity in three of those four groups, prompting the researchers to note a “consistent association” between the gene variant and obesity.
The exception was the Nurses Health Study, which didnít show the same
pattern. Those participants may have had “a different BMI distribution Ö or differences in environment and lifestyle,” write Herbert and colleagues.
How Common Is the Gene Variant?
Ten percent of people have this particular gene variant pattern, Herbert and colleagues write.
If their estimate is correct, it doesnít account for all obesity. Among U.S. adults, 32 percent are obese and 70 percent are overweight or obese, the CDC recently reported.
Other gene variants are probably also associated with obesity, Herbertís team notes. The gene variant they tracked is located near the INSIG2 gene, which is involved in fat metabolism and has been studied as a possible influence on obesity in mice and humans.
What about diet and exercise? Those topics werenít part of Herbertís study, so thereís no proof that participantsí obesity was solely due to the gene variant.
SOURCES: Herbert, A. Science, April 14, 2006; Vol. 312: pp. 279-283. WebMD Medical News: “Obesity Epidemic Balloons to New Girth.” News release,Science. News release, Harvard School of Public Health