Scientists have recently figured out the key factor in the struggle known as obesity. A major discovery has found the key factor that causes people to get fat. This new discovery will bring about new approaches to the health problem, approaches beyond diets and various forms of exercise.
New experiments have shed a new light on the subject, revealing a faulty version of a gene that causes energy from food to be stored as fat instead of being burned. Scientists have discovered that through genetic modifications in mice and on human cells in the lab, they are able to reverse this process. This gives hope that a drug or other form of treatment may be developed to do the same in humans.
The discovery challenges the notion that "when people get obese it was basically their own choice because they choose to eat too much or not exercise," said study leader Melina Claussnitzer, a genetics specialist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre. "For the first time, genetics has revealed a mechanism in obesity that was not really suspected before" and gives a third explanation or factor that's involved.
"A lot of people think the obesity epidemic is all about eating too much," but our fat cells play a role in how food gets used, he said. With this discovery, "you now have a pathway for drugs that can make those fat cells work differently."
Several obesity drugs are already on the market, but they are generally used for short-term weight loss and are aimed at the brain and appetite; they don't directly target metabolism.
Researchers can't guess how long it might take before a drug based on the new findings becomes available. But it's unlikely it would be a magic pill that would enable people to eat anything they want without packing on the pounds. And targeting this fat pathway could affect other things, so a treatment would need rigorous testing to prove safe and effective.