Future Pundit Randall Parker has the scoop on the discovery of the "fat" gene:
GAD2, which sits on chromosome 10, acts by speeding up production of a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA, or gamma-amino butyric acid. When GABA interacts with another molecule named neuropeptide Y in a specific area of the brain - the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus - we are stimulated to eat.
The researchers behind this study believe that people who carry a more active form of the GAD2 gene build up a larger than normal quantity of GABA in the hypothalamus, and suggest that this over accumulation of GABA drives the stimulus to eat further than normal, and is thus a basis for explaining why obese people overeat.
So this genetic predisposition to obesity that we've heard about all along might be real. It's not surprising that it's a gene regulating beahvior rather than, say, metabolism. I've always thought that my weight problem might have something to do with the fatc that I eat too much. Call it a hunch.
But if it's genetic, so what? How does that help? Consider this:
One form of the gene was found to be protective against obesity, while another increased the risk of obesity. The normal weight group of French adults had a higher frequency of the protective form of the GAD2 gene. Obesity is three to five times less prevalent in France than in the USA.
And here I thought that was just because they always burn down their McDonaldses. Randall concludes:
If this result is confirmed in other populations expect GAD2 expression and the activity of the GAD6 protein to become targets for drug development.
Sign me up, Doc.Posted by Phil at November 4, 2003 09:29 AM | TrackBack