Childhood Obesity Tied to Missing DNA?

Childhood obesity could be attributed to genetics, according to a new study. Although researchers found that overeating and a lack of exercise were definite factors, they also believe in some cases, the tendency to overeat may be a result of a missing chromosome.

Many people might attribute childhood obesity to a diet high in processed foods and a lack of exercise. But, a new British study suggests that some cases may be linked to missing DNA.

The University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute collaborated on a study of 300 severely obese children. Although the researchers found that overeating and a lack of exercise were definite factors, they also found that in some cases, the tendency to overeat may be a result of a missing chromosome.

Researchers compared the DNA profiles of the obese children to profiles of children with normal weight. They found that some of the obese patients were missing a chromosomal gene called SH2B1, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and weight. The children who did not have this gene showed a strong desire to eat and a tendency to gain weight easily.

Some of these children had been placed on a social services register because authorities suspected their parents of abusively overfeeding them. Following the study, the parents were exonerated. This genetic deficiency isn’t something that can be reversed – but doctors say that understanding it can help how we approach childhood obesity. They say that, rather than seeing obesity as a parental failure, it might be better to see it as a genetic condition that requires care.

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