Alternative view of the obesity problem

Image showing the shadow of a personObesity is becoming a new epidemic in Europe. Obesity means more than just a few extra pounds. Being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The main cause of having a weight problem is our lifestyle; however it is also known that our genes contribute to obesity. As with many medical conditions, obesity is probably the result of a mixture of environmental and genetic factors.

A recent study claims that the alternative splicing of genes controlling appetite and metabolism can predispose some people to be overweight. Researchers have found many single point mutations within genes associated with human extreme Body Mass Index (BMI) susceptibility. These mutations are located in such a way that they can destroy splice sites or can change some specific sequences that are responsible for splicing regulation. This results in changes of the pattern of alternative splicing and produces different proteins. It is not yet known exactly how the alternative products (proteins) of these genes affect the metabolism and body weight. Future studies will hopefully reveal the full picture of the role of alternative splicing in shaping nations.

The Body Mass Index (BMI)

The Body Mass Index or Quetelet Index is defined by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. It is used to determine if somebody’s weight is in a healthy range. When BMI exceeds 30 the person is classified as obese. BMI was invented in the 19th century by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet.