Today there is a huge concern about obesity. It is a medical condition characterized by excessive body fat accumulated to a point where it has become a health issue. It is associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart disease – ultimately leading to reduced life expectancy. Obesity is a condition that can be caused by inactivity, excessive consumption of calories, or a genetic predisposition.

Scientists have used genome-wide studies to define a relationship between body mass index and polymorphisms in the FTO gene (Fat Mass and Obesity Associated Gene). Recently, insights into the function of the gene has revealed some very interesting data that gives rise to optimism. Fischer et al. (2009) have shown that mice who do not have the FTO gene product are capable of decreasing fat tissue. In addition they have shown that down-regulation of the FTO gene seems to provide protection against calorie-induced obesity. These findings verify the importance of the FTO gene for the regulation of body weight. The results of this research will become very important for the development of new ways to treat obesity.

Reference: Fischer J, Koch L, Emmerling C, Vierkotten J, Peters T, Bruning JC, Ruther U: Inactivation of the Fto gene protects from obesity. Nature 2009, 458(7240):894-898.