Losing weight without diet or exercise may seem impossible but new genetic research about the causes of obesity makes it possible. According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have discovered a genetic “switch” inside fat cells that can increase your metabolism and help you burn fat as heat energy.
In the study, mice in the lab lost 50 percent of their body weight when researchers turned that genetic switch on. By examining human fat cells, it has been indicated that this may also work for humans, said senior author Manolis Kellis, a professor of computer science and computational biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. This sounds like a cool idea, eat as much as you want, then flip on a genetic switch to help you burn calories and lose weight.
The mice were eating the same amount but were not exercising more. The energy burned was in the form of heat so this means that researchers switched their metabolism from energy storage to energy dissipation.
The focus on this research was a gene region known as “FTO,” which has been in the spotlight since its discovery in 2007. Prior research tried to pair the FTO region with brain circuits that control hunger, but researchers now believe the action happens in fat cells and affects how much food is kept, independently of the brain. Hopefully there may be a way to trigger that gene with future medications to turn on that switch and fight obesity.
The researchers also discovered a higher occurrence of two distant genes, IRX3 and IRX5, which meant more fat storage. By changings the pathways of these genes, scientists can reverse the traces of obesity. The scientists specifically looked at “beige fat,” which is closely related to “white fat.” On the other hand, “brown fat” is usually found in newborn babies and burns faster. The mutations in the cells were manipulated so the white fat turned into beige fat. The amounts of early fat cells were increased so that they turned into beige fat instead of white fat.
According to the www.nejm.org (CDC), more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, costing about $200 billion dollars each year for medical costs. Obesity is steadily rising and people face serious health conditions such as type-2 diabetes, heart diseases and certain types of cancer. This type of research is very important for finding another method for weight loss and preventing obesity to say the least.
With this new discovery of manipulating fat cells to fight obesity in mice, the next step will be finding out how this works with humans. Although diet and exercise is not required for this obesity gene manipulation, it is still important that you do these things for long term fat loss.
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Source: www.nejm.org Melina Claussnitzer, Simon N. Dankel, Kyoung-Han Kim, et al “FTO Obesity Variant Circuitry and Adipocyte Browning in Humans” The New England Journal of Medicine 19 August 2015