Video: DNA linked to some kid obesity

  1. Closed captioning of: DNA linked to some kid obesity

    consider this: powering a smile.

    >>> time for spin doctor . is a genetic mutation to blame for children getting fat? the first to identify a link between obesity and a genetic variation in which whole segments of dna are deleted or duplicated. british scientists found that two children whose parents had been accused of abuse for overfeeding them actually have a gene that drives them to overeat. the mutation is not a significant factor in the overall obesity epidemic. that's why there is no spin here. this missing segment of dna includes the gene previously linked to weight regulation and blood sugar control. fascinating stuff. still, just for a small part of the population. no reason not to push yourself away from the table.

    >>> the next claim, this one had to do with smokers to believed that menthol cigarettes are not as harder because they feel smoother on the longs, the most popular additive among new smokers and nearly half prefer that mint-like sensation according to substance abuse and mental health service administration. menthols have grown in pop layerity and this claim, big spin of five. now here's what's interesting. the fda blocked candy-flavored cigarettes but not menthol and we know that it primarily helps get kids addicted, especially black and hispanic kids. stay away from it.

    >>> third item of the day, could jour generosity be messing with mother nature ? it's that time of year when a lot of people who live in colder climates put out their bird feeders . a new study shows when we help birds get through the winter, we can change the evolutionary fate. this, from german researchers who found that bird feeders are the catalyst for a shift in migration patterns. what's more? some species that dine on bird seeds are developing rounder wings, which are not good for long-distance migration. zero spin here. fascinating research that shows the smallest gestures can think about that when the birds are in the backyard and you're feeling bad. just think about it.

updated 12/6/2009 1:03:50 PM ET 2009-12-06T18:03:50

Some children get severely obese because they lack particular chunks of DNA, which kicks their hunger into overdrive, researchers report.

The British researchers checked the DNA of 300 children who'd become very fat, on the order of 220 pounds by age 10. They looked for deletions or extra copies of DNA segments.

They found evidence that several rare deletions may promote obesity, including one kind they studied further and found in less than 1 percent of about 1,200 severely obese children.

That deletion, on chromosome 16, apparently causes trouble because it removes a gene that the brain needs to respond to the appetite-controlling hormone leptin, said Dr. Sadaf Farooqi of Cambridge University.

In her study, children with a chromosome 16 DNA deletion "have a very strong drive to eat," said Farooqi, who co-led the research. "They're very, very hungry, they always want to eat."

The work, reported online Sunday by the journal Nature, has already produced a real-world payoff. Farooqi said four children with the chromosome 16 deletion had drawn the attention of British child welfare authorities, who blamed the parents for overfeeding them.

"We were able to intervene" and get the parents of two children off the hook, and the other two cases are under discussion, she said.

That's happened before when the scientists uncovered genetic causes for severe childhood obesity, she said.

"It's a slightly unusual outcome of our research, but one we think is very important," she said.

While scientists had previously discovered particular genes that promote obesity when damaged, the new work looked at larger chunks of DNA that can span several genes. The chromosome 16 deletion includes nine genes.

Eric Ravussin, an obesity expert at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., who wasn't involved in the study, said the work provides "a gold mine of information." That's because it identifies specific chromosome areas that scientists can explore to discover obesity-related genes, he said.

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