You May Have A Gene That Makes You Fat, Rendering Your Diet Useless, So Eat That Extra Pizza Slice
You know that friend who can drink a 12-pack of Pliny the Elder beer and an entire pepperoni, sausage, and onions pizza in one night and not gain weight? Then you have two brews and a two slices and you gain five pounds? It turns out that it might have to do with your genes causing you to unfairly gain all that weight. Vann Bennett, a biochemist at Duke University, led a scientific study of a certain gene that may cause millions of people to gain weight.
The study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, investigated variants of the ankyrin-B gene. This specific gene, which was discovered over 30 years ago, was found to have mutations that caused a variety of diseases in humans. One such mutation seems to cause mice to become fat. Mice who have the variant were more overweight than ones without the mutation despite having the same exact diet and exercise regiment.
“There is this common belief in the field that much of obesity can be traced back to appetite and the appetite control centers that reside in the brain,” says Bennett. “But what if it isn’t all in our head?” There are estimates that 8.4% of African Americans and 1.3% of European Americans possess some kind of mutation in the ankyrin-B gene which could cause them to be more obese than others. Researchers believe high-fat diets could be devastating for those with the gene mutation, even when they’re eating fewer calories. “This gene could enable us to identify at-risk individuals who should watch what kind of calories they eat and exercise more in order to keep their body weight under control,” says Bennett.