Many people struggle with losing weight, while others tend to have a difficult time gaining weight. A team of researchers might have finally answered the answer to one of the most interesting questions. Why do some people stay thin despite eating a ton of food? The findings might help in helping reveal how our genes tackle obesity. According to a report published by the World Health Organization, it was revealed that about 1.9 billion adults were overweight and of these, more than 650 million were obese.
The reason why some people stay thin despite the lack of eating restrictions is because of the ALK gene. It is a variant which facilitates resistance to gaining weight. The ALK gene helps thin people stay thin. It has opened up a new frontier in obesity treatments. The gene is located in the hypothalamus which is a region in our brain that controls how we control fat and our appetite. The ALK produces a protein known as anaplastic lymphoma kinase which is responsible for cell growth. It is important to note that the gene also influences tumor growth and is linked to certain cancers.
The researchers analyzed the DNA of over 47,000 people who were between the ages of 20 to 44. Data from Estonia’s bio-bank that collects a huge percentage of biological data of the Estonian population was used. The team identified healthy, thin individuals in the sixth-lowest percentile of weight. As for the control group, it was of those who were in the thirtieth and fiftieth percentile. The ninety-fifth percentile consisted of people who were obese. The variants of genes that appeared in the thin group were identified. It was found that some of the ALK variants were tied to lower susceptibility to gaining weight in thin people. Further, it was found that deleting the gene led to even thinner flies. Moreover, mice that were genetically modified to lack the gene showed resistance to obesity.
It is believed that therapeutics that target the gene can help the researchers fight and tackle obesity. If there is a way to reduce or shut down the ALK gene, people would be able to remain skinny. ALK treatments are already being used as inhibitors for treating cancer. More research is required to determine if the drugs inhibitors will prove effective in humans. The second stage of the study will provide more information. The study has been published in the Cell Journal.
Most of us monitor our BMI to determine if we are obese or overweight. Obesity is defined as a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more. To be considered healthy, one needs to have a BMI in the range of 18.5 to 24.9. Since obesity is tied to various health complications, the study aims to help with obesity reduction.