Body shape `is down to genes`

Updated: Oct 11, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: Ever wondered why some women have figures like skinny models while some appear curvy? A female`s body shape is all down to her genes, says a study.

Researchers have identified the genes which make one more likely to become obese, as well as those that give one an apple or pear-shaped figure - and it`s the ladies who are more likely to be affected by the genetic variations than men.

In fact, the study discovered 13 new mutations which explain why some women are overweight while some skinny. The scientists also found 18 mutations linked to a higher risk of obesity, leading to hope of a treatment for the condition.

And, they discovered that whether a woman carries fat around her hips or waist -- where it is more likely to cause diabetes and heart disease -- is determined by her genetics,
the `Daily Express` reported.

Dr Cecilia Lindgren, who led the study, said: "We are finding a genetic component which affects where on your body you will store more fat, either around the stomach, the
`apple` shape, or around the hips, the `pear` shape.

"And these effects seem to affect particularly women. Where we store fat in our bodies can influence our health.

Apple-shaped people who carry more fat around their waists are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease, even if they are not obese."

In comparison, those who are pear-shaped and store more fat in their thighs and bums may be protected against diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study, which is the largest of its kind, examined the genomes of nearly 250,000 people.

The researchers confirmed that the gene variations had some influence on the shapes of men, but a much greater effect on a woman`s figure.

Of the 13 genes which affect the hip-to-waist ratio, seven of these were found to have a stronger effect on women, suggesting they are responsible for the difference in fat
distribution between the sexes.

The scientists hope that by identifying genes linked to obesity they can discover ways to turn off impulses in the brain which make people overeat.

Dr Lindgren added: "Some people are more resistant to weight gain, while others constantly struggle to maintain their weight. Some of these differences are due to genetics.

"Understanding biology through finding genes is just a first step in a long journey towards treatment, but it is a vital one."

PTI