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Overweight affects DNA methylation

A new study published in Nature has found that overweight and obesity can lead to changes in your DNA, thereby changing how that gene is expressed. Whilst genes do not change over the course of our lives, the way that they are expressed can, and our lifestyles directly influence this, this is known as epigenetics. Up until recently, there have been few studies assessing the impact of overweight on epigenetics; however with increasing rates of obesity, this topic is becoming more and more important.

This research was carried out by an international team who examined possible correlations between BMI and epigenetic changes. Blood samples of over 10,000 European people were taken, and the team identified 207 different gene loci that were epigenetically dependant on BMI in the first group of individuals, and they then confirmed 187 of these loci in the next group. Further research confirmed that the changes were a consequence of being overweight, and were not the cause. Significant changes were also seen in the genes that are responsible for inflammation. The researchers are hoping that their results will aid the development of new strategies to predict and prevent obesity-related conditions, and also the consequences of obesity.

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