New research says genetics may play big role in obesity - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

New research says genetics may play big role in obesity

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It's not just what you eat that can make you gain weight. New research says genetics may play a role.

About two thirds of American's are overweight or obese. Junk food may not be the only cause according to scientists at City of Hope. A particular gene may play a significant role.

"There are no other genes like it in the human genome. It links cancer, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome,' says researcher Dr. Sanjay Awasthi.

The gene produces a protein called 'r-lip 76'. Take a look at these mice in the video:

The mouse on the left had a lot of the protein in its body. The mouse on the right was on the same diet but had not protein in its body and it did not gain weight.

"And they had very low levels of fat. They had half the normal blood sugar and about two thirds of the normal cholesterol and triglyceride," says Dr. Awasthi.

Everyone has small amounts of this protein in their normal cells. When the body gets stressed the amount of the protein may increase.

"Increase in fat cells, it protects these fat cells and it causes the fat cells to grow," the City of Hope researcher says.

Researchers are looking to start clinical trials to see whether antioxidants or other medicines can block this protein.

"A chemical that's in the rind of oranges is very effective in blocking this protein, blocking the function of this protein and actually depleting the protein," says Dr. Awasthi.

If researchers are on the right track and protein blockers are developed, they may be safer and more effective than current diet pills.

And regardless of a person's genetic disposition, diet and exercise are still crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.

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