Scientists have discovered a new way to boost your chances of losing weight in your later years and a breakthrough in the field could pave the way for treatments for those with a genetic mutation known as genetic obesity.
It is a rare mutation, affecting around 3 per cent of people.
It affects muscle, heart and other parts of the body, which could have a negative impact on how well you can function in society, or even cause people to suffer.
“If you have the genetic condition, you are less likely to lose muscle mass and other body parts,” Professor Peter Whitehead, who led the research at the University of Melbourne, told the ABC.
“The more muscle mass you have, the less likely you are to develop obesity-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”
The new findings, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, have important implications for treatments to improve people’s health.
“This is a great breakthrough, and it means we can begin to address the question of what happens to the body in the long term after someone has the mutation, and we can start to look at the effects of the mutation on body composition,” Professor Whitehead said.
“There is a huge amount of evidence from human studies that indicates that if we treat people with genetic mutations, the risk of developing obesity goes down.”
It could mean we can treat people more efficiently, with less side effects.
“Professor Whitehead and his colleagues from the University and Australian National University studied the effects on body weight and fat mass of people with a mutation known to be associated with obesity.”
We wanted to see if we could improve the body weight loss with a combination of a genetic intervention and an exercise intervention,” Professor Whithead said.”
“We did the best we could to isolate the genes that are associated with genetic obesity and we found that we could boost their ability to change fat mass and reduce muscle mass.”
“In addition, the gene that affected muscle mass actually had a very strong effect on muscle size, so that we were able to reverse the muscle loss.”
The researchers believe that the gene responsible for the genetic variant affects a gene that controls energy metabolism.
“You would think that the same mechanism would also be responsible for regulating the ability of the muscle to produce energy, but we couldn’t find any evidence for that,” Professor Grey said.
The study also showed that a combination intervention with a dietary supplement could improve body weight control.
“People on a diet that includes a high-fat diet have an increased risk of obesity, so it was thought that people on a low-fat (diet) would also have an increase in obesity, but the effect was very weak,” Professor Brown said.
Professor Grey and his team have been working on genetic interventions to boost weight loss for some time.
“Our previous research was showing that there were a number of interventions that could affect body weight that did not improve body composition.
So we wanted to look into how these interventions would affect body composition in the short term, and also to see how these people might be able to reduce their risk of disease,” Professor Black said.
They conducted their research with a team of researchers from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, the University’s Department of Health Psychology and the School’s Division of Diabetes and Obesity.
The researchers also studied participants in a study of people who had a mutation associated with metabolic syndrome, which includes type 2 diabetics.
They used data from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Study to look for a link between genetic mutation and metabolic dysfunction in people.
The team then looked at the gene variant that affected the body’s energy metabolism, looking for a correlation with the severity of metabolic syndrome.
“One of the questions we asked was whether it had any effect on body fat mass,” Professor Gray said.
“We did not find a correlation between body fat and metabolic risk, so the study did not show a link to body fat.”
The research has been funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Professor Brown said the findings were exciting and they needed to be replicated with more participants in the community.
“I think we can all benefit from this research,” he said.
Topics:health,health-policy,obesity,health,mental-health,psychiatric-disorders,australiaContact Sarah BrownMore stories from Victoria