"'Apple-Shaped' Body? 'Pear-Shaped'? Your Genes May Tell" - Amy Norton
A large, new study has uncovered 24 genetic variations that help separate the apple-shaped people from the pear –shaped ones. Researchers said the findings help explain why some people are prone to carrying any excess weight around the belly. But more importantly, they could eventually shed light on the biology of diseases linked to obesity – particularly abdominal obesity. While obesity is linked to a range of health conditions, excess fat around the middle seems to be a particular risk factor for certain diseases -- like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. "But we haven't really known why,” said lead researcher, Ruth Loos, PhD, director of the genetics obesity and related metabolic traits program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, come from a huge international research effort. In the end, the scientists discovered two dozen coding variations that were associated with body fat distribution. Some of those variations have already been linked to processes such as blood sugar control and fat metabolism. "The gene variations we identified in this study don't act in the brain," Dr. Loos said. "They work at the cellular level, determining where fat will be stored in the body."
—Ruth Loos, PhD, Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Director, The Genetics of Obesity and Related Metabolic Traits Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai