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Missing DNA May Cause Severe Obesity

By Amy Kuras |

fat-family-300x144Remember the case a couple months back about a family that lost their kids because they were obese, as was one of their children? The British child protection authority can and does remove kids from their families if the authorities believe the parents are overfeeding them.

It turns out that an extremely rare genetic condtion may lead to severe obesity. British researchers studied the DNA of 300 children who wee severely obese. We’re not talking plain old garden variety fat kids here, we’re talking 220 pounds by the age of 10. All of the children had certain genes missing, and a very small number, less than 1 percent of about 1200 severely obese kids, were missing a critical series of nine genes on chromosome 16.

This rare deletion meant that the body’s normal response to the appetite-controlling hormone leptin is gone. All of the kids with the deletion were enormously hungry all the time and were always seeking to eat.

I think that’s pretty fascinating — I have long said that people who are just huge don’t solely get that way through lack of effort or willpower. Sure, if they ate only healthy foods they probably wouldn’t balloon so much, but I remember reading an article years ago about someone who literally could not even get out of his house. His daily diet was described as something like five chickens, six Big Macs, a dozen eggs and more. In short, no normal person could possibly consume that much food.

There are two positives about this that I can see. One, four children who were taken away from their parents were found to have this rare gene deletion, and two have been returned to their parents. Also, now that a cause has been found, maybe there can be a cure.

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About Amy Kuras


Amy Kuras

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0 thoughts on “Missing DNA May Cause Severe Obesity

  1. diera says:

    I’ve always figured *something* must be going on with these very heavy kids other than just ‘overfeeding’. I could literally offer my kid candy on the hour every hour and he might not be healthy but he wouldn’t weigh hundreds of pounds – he’s an active seven-year-old and he just burns it off. You can’t make a child who is metabolically normal that fat without putting a tube down his/her throat, so it seems incredibly cruel to blame parents for what’s obviously an illness.

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