(Mirror Daily, United States) – We all crave some late-night snacks sometimes or the occasional greasy burrito, but researchers have found a scapegoat: your DNA might be responsible for your high-calorie cravings.
According to preliminary result from a new study, the interaction of a pair of genetic variants acts as a boost for the brain’s reward responses to foods rich in sugar and fat. Researchers hope that after been published in peer-reviewed medical journal, the findings will spark a new lead for obesity treatments.
So far, they know the two genetic variants are located in proximity to the FTO gene – the one linked to increased risk of obesity – and the DRD2 gene. Conducted by researchers at Imperial College London, the study was presented at Obesity Week, a medical meeting hosted by the Obesity Society and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
Study leader Dr. Tony Goldstone explained this is the first time a piece of research could prove there is increased activity in the brain part called the striatum when patients who have the variant in FTO looked at high-calorie foods. However, he added this reaction was dependent on “which variant of the other gene DRD2 they possessed.”
Dr. Goldstone explained the DRD2 variant has a great effect on the functions of the dopamine system. The research indicates that people with the FTO variant are at-risk to become obese due to the dopamine signals triggered in their brain when they see foods high in fat and sugar; this in turn, leads to a higher intake of such foods.
For the experiment, researchers evaluated the participants’ brain responses with functional MRI as they were looking at pictures of either high- or low-calorie foods. Volunteers were also asked to rate the level of appeal for each picture and had their DNA analyzed.
People with these particular genetic variants may have different reactions to the obesity treatments that are currently available on the market. Leah Whigham, CEO of Paso Del Norte Institute for Healthy Living, said in a press release that further research of the subject could help scientists gain a better understanding of the biological behaviors that predispose some people to obesity.
Moreover, if the preliminary results prove right, researchers could tailor obesity treatments for particular so they get the most effective treatment through individualized approaches.
Image Source: Cooking Matters