German scientists have found that mutations in the MC4R genehave a “major” impact on people’s body mass index. Peoplewho have the mutations are much heavier than those who donot.

The researchers examined the body weights and DNA of 181relatives of 25 extremely obese patients who carry the genemutation, and found that the people who had the geneticmutation were significantly heavier. They say this provesthat this mutation is linked to a “strong predisposition” toobesity. They say, “It is well known that body weight isinfluenced by many genetic and environmental factors.” Butthey think the mutations do not, by themselves, account forobesity, because some thin people also carry the geneticmutations.

Overeating and sedentary behavior are known risk factors forobesity, but research in these areas has been mostly studiedin males. In a new study of rats, Lisa A. Eckel and ShelleyR. Moore found that they all overeat when given a diet thatcontains more sugar, but the females eat more than the men,because females may inherit a “sweet tooth.”

Overeating was reduced in both sexes when they had a chanceto exercise, but it worked much better for males, since theywere much more likely to use exercise to compensate foreating too many sweets.

What’s a female to do when we’restillhungry?

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