It seems anti-intuitive, but recent research shows that those of us with a ‘sweet tooth’ are prone to having lower body fat. And it also appears that having a ‘sweet tooth’ may be the result of having a specific gene mutation. The bad news is, the mutation is also associated with increased risk of high blood pressure…
It’s called FGF21, the gene that seems to determine whether we have a ‘sweet tooth’, or not. And it has other effects linked to it, some good and some not so good. If you have a specific mutation to this gene, you’ll tend to crave more sweets, researchers from the University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences say.
Strange as it may sound, you’ll also be less prone to deposit body fat than those with a regular FGF21 gene. On the down side, you’ll probably also tend toward a body shape with more of your body fat in the middle, what the study authors call an ‘apple’ shape. For a woman, that’s not desirable. Because of the mutated gene and its effects, those of us who are apple-shaped may never be able to achieve the pinched-in waistline that fashion designers and the arbitrators of ‘beauty’ standards praise.
What they did…
The researchers’ studied large amounts of data, so they have high confidence in their findings. Their survey looked at health information from more than 450,000 individuals who have allowed their data to be recorded in the UK Biobank. That includes blood samples, diet and lifestyle questionnaires and genetic data, among other information.
“It sort of contradicts common intuition that people who eat more sugar should have less body fat. But it is important to remember that we are only studying this specific genetic variation and trying to find connections to the rest of the body. This is just a small piece of the puzzle describing the connection between diet and sugar intake and the risk of obesity and diabetes,” says one of the researchers behind the study, Associate Professor Niels Grarup of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.
But there’s another, even more serious effect
Those with the mutated FGF21 gene are also more prone to develop high blood pressure. And that can lead, if left untreated, to cardio-pulmonary disease and other complications. Researchers say the blood pressure connection is serious enough to for science to consider developing a treatment to counteract the effects of the mutated gene. But further specific research must yet be done on how the mutated gene works and development of a suitable drug treatment may be decades away.
So, for now, feed your ‘sweet tooth’ carefully if you don’t want to turn into an ‘apple’, and watch your blood pressure…
~ Maggie J.