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LONDON, Nov 03, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Researchers at Imperial College London say they have discovered a gene that may increase the risk of obesity by encouraging people to overeat.
The study, published in the Public Library of Science Biology, says the gene, GAD2, increases production of a chemical that boosts one's appetite and makes carriers "significantly more likely" to eat greater amounts of food than other people.
The researchers said GAD2 seems to stimulate overeating by speeding up production of a chemical messenger in the brain called GABA, or gamma-amino butyric acid. When combined with another molecule GABA stimulates us to eat.
Dr. Ian Campbell, chairman of the Britain's National Obesity Forum, told BBC News about 250 genes that may be linked to obesity are currently under investigation.
Said Campbell: "Obesity is a very complex disease. If we can identify genes which have a particularly prominent influence on obesity that would be useful, but it wouldn't necessarily make treatment any easier."
Copyright 2003 by United Press International.