Study Finds How Appetite Genes Control Children’s Growth

Bergen [Norway], April 2 (ANI): After birth, we grow fast. The length increases by about 50 per cent and the weight doubles during infancy. Then, the growth slows down and goes into a stable phase in childhood until a growth spurt in puberty. But, why is it so?

Researchers at the University of Bergen have found the answer. They study the genes of 30,000 children and their parents from the Norwegian mother, father and child cohort of Norway. Many millions of genetic variants from each individual were examined and linked to growth data from a series of measurements of height and weight from birth to eight years of age. The findings of the research were published in the journal, ‘Nature Metabolism’.

It has provided insight into the mechanisms that control appetite and energy metabolism early in life and can help us find better treatment for obesity in adolescence and adulthood.

“It turned out that genes linked to extreme obesity, appetite and the body’s energy consumption are responsible for the growth regulation,” professor Pal R. Njolstad said.

“This is dynamic in that specific genes have an effect only on some of the different phases of growth. We believe that this is probably one of the reasons why parents have always noted that some children are born with a naturally higher appetite than others and have significantly more fat mass in infancy,” he continued.

It seems that these dynamic effects are especially important in the first years of life and that they do not increase the risk of later obesity,” Njolstad added.

Some of the genes are linked to drugs that are being tested to slow weight gain in extreme obesity. The findings may thus be important for the treatment of normal obesity.

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