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J Intern Med. 2003 Nov;254(5):401-25.

Obesity--is it a genetic disorder?

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Human Genomics Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA.


Obesity is one of the most pressing problems in the industrialized world. Twin, adoption and family studies have shown that genetic factors play a significant role in the pathogenesis of obesity. Rare mutations in humans and model organisms have provided insights into the pathways involved in body weight regulation. Studies of candidate genes indicate that some of the genes involved in pathways regulating energy expenditure and food intake may play a role in the predisposition to obesity. Amongst these genes, sequence variations in the adrenergic receptors, uncoupling proteins, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, and the leptin receptor genes are of particular relevance. Results that have been replicated in at least three genome-wide scans suggest that key genes are located on chromosomes 2p, 3q, 5p, 6p, 7q, 10p, 11q, 17p and 20q. We conclude that the currently available evidence suggests four levels of genetic determination of obesity: genetic obesity, strong genetic predisposition, slight genetic predisposition, and genetically resistant. This growing body of research may help in the development of anti-obesity agents and perhaps genetic tests to predict the risk for obesity.

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