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The lean gene
Date:4/1/2008

Your friend can eat whatever she wants and still fit into her prom dress, but you gain five pounds if you just look at that chocolate cake. Before you sign up for Weight Watchers and that gym membership, though, you may want to look at some recent research from Tel Aviv University and save yourself a few hundred dollars.

A womans waistline may have less to do with rigorous exercise and abstaining from sweets than it does with the genes of her parents, according to a new study by Prof. Gregory Livshits from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and colleagues from Kings College in London. Dr. Livshits and his colleagues have found a scientific link between the lean body mass of a woman and her genes. Theyve determined that thinness like your smile or the color of your eyes is an inheritable trait.

Bad News First, Then the Good

Prof. Livshits, whose findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2007), says, The bad news is that many of our physical features, including our weight, are dependent on our genes. The good news is that women still have an opportunity to go against their genetic constitution and do something about it.

Until now, scientists were not sure to what extent environmental influences and genetics played a role in a womans body size. When controlling for the variance of age, the differences in womens body sizes can be predicted in the genes more than 50 percent of the time, the researchers found.

Prof. Livshits conducted his study on more than 3,000 middle-aged women in the United Kingdom who belonged to either an identical or fraternal twin pair. He measured their total lean mass, one of the three major components of body weight, and compared it to markers in their genes.

A Slim Chance?

Additional collaborative research between the two teams, which builds on the past study, is to be published in the next few
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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