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Gene May Make Kids Crave Junk Food
Date:12/10/2008

Some are genetically driven to eat more calories, study suggests,,,,

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Some people may be genetically driven to seek out more calorie-dense foods, a new study suggests.

In the Dec. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, British researchers report that children with a particular gene variant tend to eat more energy-dense foods, which means food with more calories per weight. However, the researchers didn't find any difference in metabolism between kids with the gene change and those without it.

"What [this study] effectively shows is that people with the relevant variants on the gene have a trait which may lead them to eat more unhealthy, fattening foods," study senior author Colin Palmer, chairman of pharmacogenomics in the Biomedical Research Institute at the University of Dundee, said in a news release. "I would stress that this is a trait, and not an absolute occurrence."

Dr. Goutham Rao, clinical director of the weight management and wellness center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said he thinks these findings are "hopeful" because the researchers didn't find a difference in metabolism.

"The way genes influence obesity is through behavior, rather than metabolism. That means this is something you can work on. And, the good news is that a lot of the kids who had the gene weren't overweight," he said.

More than 16 percent of U.S. children are currently obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As those children grow up, the statistics are even more grim -- 35 percent of adults are considered obese, according to the CDC.

The new study builds off past research that identified a variant in the FTO gene that is associated with obesity. The researchers measured the height and weight of 2,726 Scottish children between the ages of 4 and 10. They also perfo
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