Obesity genes: Losing weight is made more difficult due to hereditary factors

Obesity genes: Losing weight is made more difficult due to hereditary factors

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Research team discovers TMEM18 obesity gene

Obesity and obesity are usually attributed to poor nutrition and lack of exercise. However, a German research team has now shown that genetics seem to play a more important role in pathological obesity than previously thought.

Researchers around Professor Dr. Antje Körner and Dr. Kathrin Landgraf of the University of Leipzig discovered more than 100 genes or gene variants that help people get fat faster. The team identified certain genes associated with obesity. The research work was recently recognized by the specialist journal "Molecular Metabolism" as the best contribution to this year's "Helmholtz Diabetes Conference".

Is Obesity a Genetic Disease?

In a genome-wide association study, the Leipzig research group was able to identify several genes and gene variants that play an important role in the development of adipose tissue. In people with obesity, the researchers were able to show that these genes are disturbed in childhood. According to the study, the TMEM18 gene in particular controls the development of fat cells. "The gene controls the development of new metabolically active fat cells, the so-called adipocytes," explains Dr. Landgrave. This gene is down-regulated in the adipose tissue of people with obesity. This malregulation can already be seen in children.

New treatment approach against obesity

"We have found a factor that is important for the development of healthy adipose tissue," reports Professor Körner. In further work, the researchers now want to understand why this gene is down-regulated and, if possible, use the knowledge to develop a new therapy.

Identify the risk group already in childhood

Other studies have already shown that childhood obesity often persists in adulthood. The reasons for this, however, were more likely to be assumed in incorrectly learned eating and exercise habits. With the obesity genes, the researchers identified another risk factor that can indicate a later risk of obesity. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • University of Leipzig: Obesity gene TMEM18 can influence the development of human adipose tissue (accessed: 10.10.2019),

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