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Human Genes Related to Obesity

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Human genetic traits are ultimately classified as either monogenic or complex (Celedon, Hunninghake, 2012). As suggested by their names, monogenic traits are primarily influenced by alterations of a single gene (Celedon, Hunninghake, 2012). On the other hand, complex traits are a result of variations in multiple genes, as well as the contributions of various environmental factors (Celedon, Hunninghake, 2012).
One such complex trait, which has become quite omnipresent in the modern world, is adiposity, or fat storage in one’s body. Currently, more than
35.7% of U.S. adults are classified as obese (CDC, 2013). Obesity has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke (CDC, 2013). A study was conducted on monozygotic twins to determine whether shared environments yielded the same BMI in each individual (Carrell, Haworth,
Plomin, Wardle, 2008). It was found that there were differences in BMI at a young age, despite extremely similar environments (Carrell, Haworth,
Plomin, Wardle, 2008). Ruling out environmental effects, the other possible explanation for BMI variation was a difference in adiposity-related genes (Carrell, Haworth, Plomin, Wardle, 2008). In 2007, genetics researchers identified the first gene related to obesity (Harvard School of Public
Health, n.d.). This gene is known as the FTO (fat mass and obesity-associated) gene, located on chromosome 16 (Harvard School of Public Health,
n.d.). Individuals who carry the FTO gene have a 20-30% higher risk of obesity
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