A £38 GENE test can accurately predict a person’s risk of growing up fat, scientists claim.
The “polygenic score” looks at more than two millions bits of DNA that influence body weight.
Getty – Contributor A gene test that costs just £38 can predict the risk of getting fat by looking at two million bits of DNA that influence body weight, scientists claim
Those with the highest number of fat genes were on average two stone heavier as adults, compared to those with the least.
And they were 25 times more likely to be severely obese.
Harvard University researchers said fat genes start impacting on weight from as young as age three.
But warn that growing up obese is not inevitable.
‘DNA IS NOT DESTINY’
A good diet and regular exercise can help high-risk individuals stick to a healthy weight.
Researcher Dr Amit Khera said: “We have always had a hunch that some people may have been born with a genetic profile that predisposes them to obesity, and we now confirm that this is both true and quantifiable.
“Although complex conditions such as obesity and heart disease result from both genetic and environmental factors, this means DNA is not destiny.”
In the study, published in the journal Cell, the gene test was trialled on more than 300,000 people.
Experts said it accurately predicted their chances of being tubby.
They claim the test allows medics to identify those at higher risk and act early to prevent poor health.
Interventions might include prescribing statins, lifestyle advice, or using wearable technology, such as an Apple Watch, to detect heart problems.
Dr Khera added: “The ability to predict disease via genome interpretation will raise both important opportunities and potential challenges for clinical medicine.
GENETIC MAKEUP PLAYS A PART
“But we are incredibly excited about the potential.”
More than one in four UK adults are now obese, compared to just one in 35 in the 70s.
Being too heavy raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart, liver disease and several common cancers.
Commenting on the study, Tim Frayling, Professor of Human Genetics at Exeter University, said: “The study showed that differences between people’s genetic makeup is associated with substantial differences in their weight.
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“The luckiest 10 per cent of people – those with fewest “fat genes” – were two stone lighter than the 10 per cent with the most “fat genes”.”
Four million Brits carry genes that protect them from obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to University of Cambridge research.
The team say the discovery could lead to the development of new drugs that help people lose weight.
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