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Genetic Research

Sweet Tooth Gene Connected With Less Body Fat

9 months, 1 week ago

5714  0
Posted on Apr 17, 2018, 1 p.m.

A surprising discovery has been made by researchers at the University of Copenhagen that a particular craving for sweet things may be determined by genetic variations, it has been found that individuals with this genetic disposition for sweet tooth have less body fat, as published in Cell Reports.

Individuals with a gene variation on FGF21 have been found to be predispositioned to less body fat than others who do not have the variation. Individuals with this variation consume more sugar than others, which contradicts common intuitions that eating more sugar could have less fat, but one must keep in mind that this only studied this specific genetic variation trying to find links to the rest of the body.


This genetic variation and the effects associated with it are not all positive, it is connected to slightly increased blood pressure, and the apple shape body type with more fat around the waist than hips. Conclusions were based on large data amounts, from studying more than 450,000 participants from the UK Biobank which included blood samples, and questionnaires on diet and genetic data, among other things. Size of the study gives conclusions robustness according to researchers. Differences in body fat amounts and/or blood pressure level is only minor depending on whether or not genetic variant is present or not, researchers are still confident results are accurate.


Knowledge gained from this study is important in connection to development of drugs and future research, as researchers are working to determine if it is possible to target or replace FGF21 using drugs for the treatment of diabetes and obesity. Due to the sugar connection FGF21 constitutes a potential drug target. This research helps to understand underlying mechanisms of the hormone to help predict effects and side effects.


Materials provided by University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Timothy M. Frayling, Robin N. Beaumont, Samuel E. Jones, Hanieh Yaghootkar, Marcus A. Tuke, Katherine S. Ruth, Francesco Casanova, Ben West, Jonathan Locke, Seth Sharp, Yingjie Ji, William Thompson, Jamie Harrison, Amy S. Etheridge, Paul J. Gallins, Dereje Jima, Fred Wright, Yihui Zhou, Federico Innocenti, Cecilia M. Lindgren, Niels Grarup, Anna Murray, Rachel M. Freathy, Michael N. Weedon, Jessica Tyrrell, Andrew R. Wood. A Common Allele in FGF21 Associated with Sugar Intake Is Associated with Body Shape, Lower Total Body-Fat Percentage, and Higher Blood Pressure. Cell Reports, 2018; 23 (2): 327 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.03.070

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