If you always feel like you have room for one more piece of dessert, then you are most probably a proud owner of the so-called “hunger gene” that affects averagely one in six people. Scientists found out that this particular FTO gene is making you feel hungry for sugary and fatty foods and is indeed responsible for obesity.
Several years ago, researchers discovered the FTO gene – fat mass and obesity-associated protein, which was said to be the one that makes us fat. However, the reason was unknown. The FTO gene is carried by half the population and one of its variations stops us from feeling full. This particular variation is found in around 16 percent of the people worldwide or roughly in one in six individuals. And these people carrying the flawed FTO gene are 70 percent more likely to be obese than those without it. On average, they consume 200 extra calories a day and weigh 3 kg more. The international team of researchers now proves that this hunger gene is responsible for obesity in a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The team examined two groups of young men – one with the gene, and one without it.
First, the volunteers had to rate their hunger before and after meal. Then, their blood was tested for ghrelin, the hormone that triggers the feeling of hunger. Usually, the levels of ghrelin are high before we eat, but after meal, they fall. However, men with the hunger gene felt hungry after they ate and their blood had high levels of ghrelin. Right after that, the volunteers had to see pictures of different foods and say whether they liked them, or not. Again, people with the hunger gene said that cakes, chips, burgers and pastry were incredibly tempting. In addition, MRI scans showed brains of those men responded strongly to sugary and fatty foods.
According to lead researcher Dr. Rachel Batterham at University College London, some people, or 16 percent of us to be precise, are just biologically programmed to eat more. And all diets and healthy eating habits will fail just because the body works that way. First, the body is hungrier than it should be, and second, the brain wants more foods rich in fat and sugar. So, if you carry the hunger gene, you are double doomed to be obese, unless you take measures to reduce the levels of ghrelin. According to doctors, there are several ways to fight with ghrelin and hunger:
A lot of cardio exercising
Eating high-protein diet
With all these discoveries, scientists hope they will soon find an effective treatment for obesity. Until then, you can start consuming foods, herbs or dietary supplements that reduce the hunger and the appetite.