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U of L researchers link new genes to ab fat

By on February 9, 2014
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By Howard Stikes—

Dr. Kira Taylor and her team of scientists from around the world recently uncovered new genes linked to abdominal fat, here at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

“We believe this discovery holds great opportunity and potential for medicinal chemistry along with personalized medicine,” said Taylor. “If scientists are able to fine-tune the expression of these genes we could potentially reduce the risk of excessive fat in the mi-section and it’s consequences.“

Abdominal fat is a measurement of a person’s waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). It is estimated that genetics accounts for 30 to 60 percent of WHR. Taylor and her team have identified five new genes associated with increased WHR. “We are learning more everyday through our research and getting closer to developing medications to treat obesity or obesity-related diseases,” Taylor said.

 

Obesity in the United States is in epidemic proportions. Two thirds of the population is either overweight or obese. Data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Food Research and Action Center estimate that 68.8 percent of adults are overweight or obese. 35.7 percent are obese. Estimates for children and adolescents were 31.8 percent being obese or overweight. 16.9 percent are obese.

Abdominal fat has been found as the precursor to diseases ranging from hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression and kidney stones, fatty liver disease, cancer and erectile dysfunction. “Being of normal weight can be protective of developing these diseases,” Taylor said.

She said we are still a ways off from having a pill to take that replaces a disciplined lifestyle. “Although genes can make one person more susceptible to obesity than another, diet and exercise are still the keys to being healthy and reducing abdominal fat, thus reducing the risks associated with obesity.“

Photo courtesy Louisville.edu

About Olivia Krauth

Asst. Editor in Chief at The Louisville Cardinal.

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