London, May 5 : Your expanding belly, the subsequent weight gain and a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes can now be attributed to a gene sequence, more common in those having Indian Asian ancestry, according to a new study.
Scientists from Imperial College London and other international institutions have also suggested that the identification of this gene sequence, more common in those with Indian Asian than European ancestry, may lead to better ways of treating obesity.
The researchers also found that this sequence, found in 50 percent of the UK population leads to a 2cm expansion in waist circumference, a 2kg gain in weight, and a tendency to become resistant to insulin, leading to type 2 diabetes.
"Until now, we have understood remarkably little about the genetic component of common problems linked with obesity, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Finding such a close association between a genetic sequence and significant physical effects is very important, especially when the sequence is found in half the population," Nature quoted Professor Jaspal Kooner, the paper's senior author from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, as saying.
It was also revealed that the sequence is third most prevalent in Indian Asian than in those with European ancestry. This may be an indication as to why there are considerably high levels of obesity and insulin resistance in Indian Asians, comprising 25 percent of the world's population and which may constitute for 40 percent of global cardiovascular disease by 2020.
According to the scientists, the sequence also controls the MC4R gene, which may be the reason behind rare forms of extreme childhood obesity. Also, earlier research has also discovered other energy-conserving genes responsible for obesity, whose knowledge could help in obesity management.
"A better understanding of the genes behind problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease means that we will be in a good position to identify people whose genetic inheritance makes them most susceptible. We can't change their genetic inheritance. But we can focus on preventative measures, including life-style factors such as diet and exercise, and identifying new drug targets to help reduce the burden of disease," added Professor Kooner.
The research involved approximately 30,000 UK citizens of Indian Asian and European ancestry and was conducted by the London Life Sciences Population (LOLIPOP) study of environmental and genetic causes of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
It mainly focussed on the link between unique genetic markers, called single nuclear polymorphisms, and physical traits linked with obesity, such as waist circumference and insulin resistance.
The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.