London: Researchers have identified two new gene variants that increase the risk of common childhood obesity.The discovery was made by an international collaborative group, the Early Growth Genetics (EGG) Consortium.“This is the largest-ever genome-wide study of common childhood obesity, in contrast to previous studies that have focused on more extreme forms of obesity primarily connected with rare disease syndromes,” said lead investigator Struan F.A. Grant, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.“As a consequence, we have definitively identified and characterized a genetic predisposition to common childhood obesity,” he stated.As one of the major health issues affecting modern societies, obesity has increasingly received public attention, especially given a rising prevalence of the condition among children.Research indicates that obese adolescents tend to have higher risk of mortality as adults. Although environmental factors, such as food choices and sedentary habits, contribute to the increasing rates of obesity in childhood, twin studies and other family-based evidence have suggested a genetic component to the disease as well.Previous studies have identified gene variants contributing to obesity in adults and in children with extreme obesity, but relatively little is known about genes implicated in regular childhood obesity.“The Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has recruited and genotyped the world’s largest collection of DNA from children with common obesity,” said Grant.“However, in order to have sufficient statistical power to detect novel genetic signals, we needed to form a large international consortium to combine results from similar datasets from around the world,” he noted.
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