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Sweet Tooth Gene Linked to Lower Body Fat

Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom recently conducted a study looking at sugar cravings and the hormones that are associated with body fat. They analyzed health records, blood samples and genetic information for 450,000 people in the UK. The researchers found that people with a variation of the FGF21 gene have slightly less body fat than others. But, it is not all good news. They also found that people with this genetic variation crave more sugary foods, have more carbohydrate cravings (carb cravings) or have sugar addiction.

Even though the findings were subtle, they were considered accurate and highly significant. People with this genetic sweet tooth also have a greater risk for high blood pressure and increased belly fat and insulin resistance which can raise the risk for diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

It was an unexpected finding that people who crave more sugar have less body fat. But this is just one genetic variation among hundreds if not thousands of genes that are thought to be responsible for body weight regulation. It is just one piece of the huge puzzle of body weight regulation.

Researchers hope to use this new knowledge to develop treatments for obesity that will specifically target the FGF21 gene. 

Author
Scott Isaacs, MD Endocrinologist and Weight Loss Specialist

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