London, July 28 : A gene linked to obesity might make it harder for people to control their appetite, say researchers.
Researchers from University College London and the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London have revealed that people with copies of the FTO gene's risky variant were less likely to feel 'full' and hence overeat.
Previous studies have shown that adults with two copies of the gene variant were on average 3kg heavier, and those with a single copy are on average 1.5kg heavier, than those without the gene.
In the study involving children aged eight to 11, the researchers examined higher risk gene variation, and found that it affected appetite.
They found that children with the higher risk version of the gene tended to overeat and to struggle to recognise when they were full.
"It is not simply the case that people who carry the risky variant of this gene automatically become overweight, but they are more susceptible to overeating," BBC quoted lead researcher Professor Jane Wardle, as saying.
"This makes them significantly more vulnerable to the modern environment which confronts all of us with large portion sizes and limitless opportunities to eat," she added.
Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said the research was "very interesting".
However, he said: "We are looking at a thousand-piece jigsaw and we have shown how the first two pieces fit together.
"It is a step in the right direction, but what we don't want to say is 'we have got the gene for obesity, therefore we can cure it' - that is not going to happen for many years to come," he added.