Chinese researchers discover gene that protects Asians from obesity


Researchers at Fudan University in China have identified a specific gene variant that appears to protect people in southern China and Southeast Asia from obesity. The study, published in the Journal of Genetics and Genomics last month, involved the analyses of 16 basal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups, genetic families that trace back to a common ancestor.

  • Genetic advantage: Fudan University’s Zheng Hongxiang, Jin Li and Wang Jiucun analyzed genetic data from 2,877 Han Chinese individuals and found a particular type of mtDNA to be linked to a lower risk of obesity. This mtDNA variant, identified as M7b1a1, is prevalent in southern China and Southeast Asia.

  • Mitochondrial link: The study posits that M7b1a1 reduces the risk of obesity due to a decreased mitochondrial function. The researchers noted that their findings “offer new insights into the genetic basis of obesity-related traits, enhancing our understanding of how genetics can influence body fat distribution and obesity risk.”

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