EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — According to the CDC, from 2017 to 2018 over 42% of Americans suffered from obesity and that number continues to rise. A research study could be the key to treatment and prevention for those overweight and obese.
This is an issue that’s prevalent and affects many people. Through hundreds of thousands of patients, scientists discovered that some people are more protected from developing obesity.
Regeneron Genetic Center partnered with Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative for data used in various medical research. Over 600,000 patients from the U.S., UK and Mexico participated. The study began nearly two years ago, and yesterday they announced a breakthrough in their findings.
“We have identified this gene that is critical in determining and having a role in someone’s weight and body mass index,” said Tooraj Mirshahi associate, Geisinger Obesity Research Institute.
The GPR75 gene was found in about 1 out of every 3,000 patients in the study, making it very rare. Those with this gene have a 54% lower risk of developing obesity.
“The idea is that if we can mimic that same kind of reduced activity of the gene in other people, we believe that would be a way to treat obesity and weight gain,” Mirshahi said.
Research is still in the premature stages, but health professionals are hoping that this information will also break of the stigma surrounding those with obesity.
“This is not a lack of will power. You know obesity is a chronic, relapsing disease like I said and so it’s nobody’s fault,” said Christopher Still, director, Geisinger Obesity Research Institute.
Their next step is determining who’s most likely to carry the GPR75 gene.
“We need to define these individuals. Find out you know their make-up, do a lot of them have diabetes? Are a lot of them men or women? Or is there something specific regarding these individuals?” Still said.
Geisinger is encouraging all their patients to join this ongoing study. Visit Geisinger’s website for more information on the study.