A new study found that a “fat gene” that subjects people to a higher risk of obesity is only active in people born after 1942. The new findings show that lifestyle changes such as sedentary lives, TVs, cars and fast food activated the gene in people living in the Western world.
The new found gene, called FTO, is carried by 20 percent of white people increasing their risk of developing obesity. In 2007, a British study revealed that people who had two variants of that gene weighted about 7 pounds more than people who didn’t have the gene.
The new study’s goal was to underscore a link between passing time and gene evolution.
Researchers used data gathered by the Framingham Heart Study’s authors on more than 10,000 people. These people had been surveyed and medically tested, while a third of them had even their DNA sequenced.
Researchers found that nearly every participant gained weight as time passed by. However, people born before 1940 had a lower risk of higher body mass index (BMI) or obesity, even though some of them had the bad variant of FTO gene.
“What we wanted to see was whether there was a difference for people born in the earlier part of the cohort, during the 1920s, (when compared to) to people born in the later part if the cohort, in the 1940s and 1950s,”
said Dr. James Niels Rosenquist, lead author of the study, said.
The results showing that there was a visible difference between the three groups were the “first of their kind,” researchers noted. They also said that the date of birth had a significant influence on the weight of the individuals even if they had been born into the same families.
The new findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Scientists said that when they started the study they didn’t plan to learn what had triggered the FTA gene in people born after 1942. However, it may be related to the World War 2 and they way life changed after it was over. For instance, people in Western world got sedentary jobs, did less physical workout, ate unhealthier and so on.
“This gene, which up until this point in time had no effect … may be some kind of McDonald’s gene or some kind of office chair gene,”
Dr. Rosenquist explained.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis, one of the study authors, said that the new research showed him and his colleagues that time should also be taken into consideration when studying how genes affect human health.
Image Source: Medical Daily