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The Fitness Zone

Can't Help a Second Helping? Blame It On Your Genes
August 15, 2013

It's hard to say if it's good news or bad news, but your hunger may be due to a hunger gene'.

In a recent study, A link between FTO, ghrelin, and impaired brain food-cue responsivity', scientists discovered that a rogue DNA sequence, called FTO, leaves people craving fatty, sugary foods, even after a meal.

If that sounds like you, you're not alone. 49% of us have this gene, leaving them 30% more likely to become obese. A further 16% have a double copy, which leaves them 70% more likely to become obese. Those with the double gene are likely to be half a stone heavier than those without it, and take in an extra 200 calories daily.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, asked two groups of men, some with and some without the gene, to rate their hunger levels before and after a meal. Researchers also measured blood levels of grehlin, the substance that triggers hunger.

Grehlin is usually high before eating and low afterwards. However, grehlin levels remained relatively high in the FTO group even after dining. They also felt hungrier.

As if that weren't dispiriting enough, MRI scanning found the brains of people with FTO lit up at the thought of fatty or sugary foods, even after a meal.

Yet it's not all bad news. Dr Rachel Batterham of University College, London, who led the study, said exercise like running or cycling and a high-protein diet can reduce grehlin levels.


This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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