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Medicineworld.org: Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene

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Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene




High levels of physical activity can help to counteract a gene that normally causes people to gain weight, as per a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. They analyzed gene variants and activity levels of the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., and observed that the obesity-related FTO gene had no effect on individuals who were the most physically active.

"Our results strongly suggest that the increased risk of obesity due to genetic susceptibility can be blunted through physical activity," the authors conclude. "These findings emphasize the important role of physical activity in public health efforts to combat obesity, especially in genetically susceptible individuals." The results of the study are being reported in the Sept. 8, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine



Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene

Soren Snitker, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author and an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "Our study shows that a high level of physical activity can 'level the playing field,' equalizing the risk of obesity between those who have copies of the FTO gene variant and those who don't".

The FTO gene recently has been associated with obesity and increased body mass index, or BMI, in several large-scale studies. More than half of all people of European descent have one or two copies of a variation of this gene, British researchers reported last year. Individuals with two.

copies of the gene variant are on average 7 pounds heavier and 67 percent more likely to be obese than those who don't have it.

University of Maryland scientists found this same link between variations of the FTO gene and increased risk of obesity in their study of 704 Amish men and women. But, in examining the gene in this unique group of people with a similar genetic background and active lifestyle, the scientists also observed that high levels of physical activity helped to counteract the gene's effects.

"Having multiple copies of FTO gene variants had no effect on body weight for people who were the most physically active, regardless of whether they were men or women. But in less active people, the association between the gene and increased BMI was significant," says Evadnie Rampersaud, Ph.D., the lead author and a former postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who is now at the University of Miami Institute for Human Genomics. "This provides evidence that the negative effects of the FTO variants on increasing body weight can be moderated by physical activity".

Dr. Snitker, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says the FTO gene is likely only one of many genes associated with obesity and notes that the effect of these genes may have changed over time.

"Some of the genes shown to cause obesity in our modern environment may not have had this effect a few centuries ago when most people's lives were similar to that of present-day Amish farmers," he says. He adds that environmental and lifestyle factors, such as a high-fat diet and lack of exercise, also may serve as triggers for obesity in genetically susceptible people.

"We are just starting to unravel these complex interactions between genomics and environment. It's really a new age of discovery," Dr. Snitker says. "One day, we hope to be able to provide a personally optimized prescription to prevent or treat obesity in people based on their individual genetic makeup."

In this study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the scientists examined dozens of variations in the FTO gene. They gauged the participants' physical activity level with the help of a device worn on the hip called an accelerometer, which measures body movement. "We were able to get objective measurements of physical activity over seven consecutive 24-hour periods using this device, and that is a real strength of our study," says Dr. Rampersaud.

Participants were classified as having "high activity" or "low activity" levels. The more active people used 900 more kilocalories, or units of energy, a day, which translates into three to four hours of moderately intensive activity, such as brisk walking, housecleaning or gardening.

Despite an active lifestyle, 54 percent of the men in the study were considered overweight (BMI over 25) and 10.1 percent were obese (BMI over 30). Sixty-three percent of the women were overweight, and 30 percent were considered obese. The mean BMI was slightly higher in women (27.8) than in men (25.7).

These figures are in line with prior University of Maryland studies that showed that .

the Amish are as obese as other Caucasians in the United States. The earlier research also observed that the Amish have half the occurence rate of Type 2 diabetes as well as favorable cholesterol levels, despite a diet high in fat and cholesterol, eventhough the reasons for this remain unclear.

The Old Order Amish are considered ideal for genetic research because they are a genetically homogenous people who trace their ancestry back 14 generations to a small group that came to Pennsylvania from Europe in the mid-1700s. They don't drive cars or have electricity in their homes, eschewing a number of of the trappings of modern life. Most Amish men are farmers or work in physically demanding occupations such as blacksmithing or carpentry. Women are homemakers who work without the aid of modern appliances and often care for a number of children.


Posted by: JoAnn    Source




Did you know?
High levels of physical activity can help to counteract a gene that normally causes people to gain weight, as per a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. They analyzed gene variants and activity levels of the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., and observed that the obesity-related FTO gene had no effect on individuals who were the most physically active.

Medicineworld.org: Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene

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