British researchers have uncovered evidence to suggest that the tendency to be overweight or obese may be linked to a genetic defect. If that’s borne out by further research, the study’s authors say a ‘treatment’ to counteract the effects of the condition may be possible in the future.
The World Health Organization is leading the battle against obesity around the globe.
It’s not just a Western issue, either. Latest numbers from WHO estimate that
one in three humans alive today is either overweight or downright obese.
At the root of the new discovery is the already well-known situation where some people continue to eat – some to excess – after they should feel full. Scientists at King’s College London say they’ve found that a certain receptor in the digestive tract controls the signals that indicate satiety, or fullness. If the receptor is not present, no signal gets sent and the eater may just keep eating. That, of course, can lead to overweight and obesity.
The receptor, called Free Fatty Acid Receptor 2 (FFAR2), appears to be directly linked to the level of certain hormones that carry the satiety message. No FFAR2 receptors, no fullness signals.
“Obesity is currently one of the most serious global threats to human health, determined by genetic background, diet, and lifestyle,” says Dr. Gavin Bewick, lead author of the new report. “We know that supplementing your diet with non-digestible carbohydrates reduce appetite and body weight gain, but in this study we demonstrate for the first time the essential role of the FFAR2 receptor in enabling specific dietary constituents to reduce food intake and protect against obesity. With this discovery, we can start to look at whether we can use diet or pharmaceutical means to change the cellular make-up of the gut in order to treat a host of disorders.”
So… No ‘treatment’ for overweight or obesity is in the wings just yet. But it’s a definite possibility for the near future!
~ Maggie J.