Research has suggested that a particular gene in the brain's reward system contributes to overeating and obesity in adults.
This same variant has now been linked to childhood obesity and tasty food choices, particularly for girls, according to a new study by Dr. Patricia Silveira and Prof. Michael Meaney of McGill University and Dr. Robert Levitan of the University of Toronto.
Contrary to "blaming" obese individuals for making poor food choices, Meaney and his team suggest that obesity lies at the interface of three factors: genetic predispositions, environmental stress and emotional well-being. These findings, published in the journal, Appetite, shed light on why some children may be predisposed to obesity, and could mark a critical step towards prevention and treatment.
"In broad terms, we are finding that obesity is a product of genetics, early development and circumstance", says Meaney, who is also Associate Director of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute Research Centre.
The work is part of the MAVAN (Maternal Adversity Vulnerability & Neurodevelopment) project, headed by Meaney and Hélène Gaudreau, Project Coordinator. Their team studied pregnant women, some of whom suffered from depression or lived in poverty, and followed their children from birth until the age of ten.
For the study, researchers tested 150 four-year old MAVAN children by administering a snack test meal. The children were faced with healthy and non-healthy food choices. Mothers also completed a questionnaire to address their child's normal food consumption and preferences. "We found that a variation in a gene that regulates the activity of dopamine, a major neurotransmitter that regulates the individual's response to tasty food, predicted the amount of 'comfort' foods -- highly palatable foods such as ice cream, candy or calorie-laden snacks -- selected and eaten by the children", said Dr. Silveira. "This effect was especially important for girls who we found carried the genetic allele that decreases dopamine function."
"Most importantly, the amount of comfort food eaten during the snack test in the four- year-olds predicted the body weight of the girls at six years of age," says Meaney, "Our research indicates that genetics and emotional well-being combine to drive consumption of foods that promote obesity. The next step is to identify vulnerable children, as there may be ways for prevention and counseling in early obesity stages".
Cynthia Lee | EurekAlert!
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
13.07.2018 | Life Sciences