African Americans are more prone to obesity, research suggests.
Some eight percent carry a genetic mutation that causes them to carry excess weight, regardless of their diet or exercise levels, versus just one percent of Caucasians.
The mutated gene, known as ankyrin-B, which is found in nearly every cell in the human body, leads to calories being stored in tissues in mice, rather than being burned off, a study found.
Study author Dr Vann Bennett from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said: ‘We call it fault-free obesity.
‘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. But what if it isn’t all in our head?’
African Americans are more prone to obesity as eight percent carry a gene that stores calories
EATING CHOCOLATE FIVES TIMES A WEEK REDUCES AN OVERWEIGHT PERSON’S RISK OF HAVING A HEART ATTACK
Eating chocolate five times a week reduces an overweight person’s risk of having a heart attack, research suggested earlier this month.
Among those carrying too much weight, those who indulge in the treat at least five times a week are the least likely to have a coronary artery disease (CAD)-related event, such as a heart attack, a study found.
Overweight people who never eat chocolate are the most at risk of suffering a CAD-related event, the research adds.
Previous research has linked minimally processed, dark chocolate to improved heart health due to its antioxidants protecting against ‘bad’ cholesterol, as well as boosting blood flow, lowering blood pressure and preventing clots.
The study reveals chocolate’s effects do not occur in those who have a healthy BMI or are underweight, which may be due to its impact being small and therefore only benefiting overweight people who are more at risk of a CAD-related event, the US researchers speculate.
Mutated gene makes mice twice as large
The researchers introduced a mutation into a gene, known as ankyrin-B, in mice.
This gene can be found in nearly every tissue in the human body and plays a role in burning calories.
Results reveal mice with the mutated gene grew to be twice the size of normal rodents despite them all eating the same diet and doing the same levels of exercise.
This is due to the mutation causing mice to store calories in tissue rather than burning them off to create energy.
‘We call it fault-free obesity’
Dr Bennett said: ‘We call it fault-free obesity.
‘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. But what if it isn’t all in our head?
‘We believe this gene might have helped our ancestors store energy in times of famine.
‘In current times, where food is plentiful, ankyrin-B variants could be fueling the obesity epidemic.
Previous research reveals 8.4 percent of African Americans and 1.3 percent of Caucasians carry this mutated gene.
This weight gain may have detrimental effects on human health.
Study author Professor Damaris Lorenzo said: ‘The abnormal accumulation of fat in these tissues led to inflammation and disruption of response to insulin, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
‘A similar cascade of events is what often takes place in humans, and that is why obesity can be so detrimental to our health.’
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.