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Obesity predisposition

Mexicans may have obesity predisposition

Up to 35% of young Mexican adults could have predisposition

Young Mexican adults may have a genetic obesity predisposition, according to a study published in the Open Journal of Genetics.

According to Margarita Teran-Garcia, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, the FTO gene is associated with a predisposition to obesity, increased BMI, and increased waist circumference.

In the study, 251 18 to 25-year-olds were tested for risk alleles on the FTO gene as part of the Up Amigos project, a collaboration of scientists at the University of Illinois and the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosί, Mexico. The researchers are following the 10,000 yearly applicants to the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosί to learn how changes in students' weight, BMI, and eating and exercise habits affect their health over time.

Of the young adults tested in the study, 15% had inherited the genetic risk from both parents and 20% had inherited risk from one parent. Sixty-five percent of the students in the study did not carry the risk allele. The FTO genotype was also associated with fasting glucose (p=0.0283), but the overall mean glucose levels were within normal values.

"The students who inherited genetic risk factors from both parents were already 15½ pounds heavier and 2 inches bigger around the waist than those who hadn't,” said Teran-Garcia. “They also had slightly higher fasting glucose levels.”

Although FTO markers and analysis are available for large groups of Caucasians, Asians, and African-Americans, few studies have examined the effects of this gene in Mexican and Mexican- American populations.

"This is the first study to target young adults in Mexico, although one other study has followed older Mexican adults who had already been diagnosed with diabetes, obesity, and obesity-related diseases," she said.

She noted that 85% of Hispanics in the US are of Mexican origin.

“This is the first report of a FTO-variant association with measures of adiposity in apparently healthy Mexican young adults,” the authors conclude. “Further studies are required to validate gene-environment associations de- scribing longitudinal changes in age-specific groups and the impact of lifestyle interventions in diverse populations.”

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