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Genetics, Obesity and Weight
Effects of Genes on Childhood Obesity and Body Weight
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Genetics, Diet, Weight and Obesity

Advances to date in the understanding of the interplay of diet composition (as distinct from mere energy content), genetic characteristics, and risk of obesity have not yet resulted in useful means of intervention, but they are approaching an understanding of interactions of genetics and environment. The evidence for such an interaction is now convincing. Animal models may provide some guidance as to where to look.

More information on children is needed to determine whether the genes involved are the same for childhood obesity and whether this tracks to adult life. This review notes for example that about 50 percent of the population variance in plasma cholesterol is genetically determined, and that in children baseline plasma lipid levels are the major predictor of response to dietary intervention.

It is known that from data of 28 clinical trials that a reduction of 10 percent in the proportion of dietary energy from fat results in a weight loss of 16g/d on average. Put another way, obese people have a higher proportion of dietary energy from fat than normal weight people. However this review does not mention the type of fat involved; there is increasing evidence that different fatty acids may influence the equation to different degrees.

Overfeeding experiments also show that there are genetic differences in the degree of weight gain in reaction to a given energy excess. Not surprisingly the same is found for underfeeding as well, and hence the response to attempts at weight reduction. This is a useful review of what remains a complex subject.

Source: Pürusse L and Bouchard C: Gene-diet interactions in obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 2000

Obesity and Weight Loss
Obesity is now the "trillion dollar disease". This reflects the social costs of obesity, in health and lost production, as well as the weight loss drug profits that might be made for any pharmaceutical company that finds a drug-cure for obesity. The search for viable weight loss medications continues, although pharmaceutical weight loss products still have significant side effects.

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