UK researchers say discovery suggests dietary advice should focus on genetic predisposition to digest different foods
British researchers have discovered a link between a gene that breaks down carbohydrates and obesity, which may pave the way for more effective, individually tailored diets for people wanting to lose weight.
Researchers at King's College London and Imperial College London found that people with fewer copies of a gene responsible for carbohydrate breakdown may be at higher risk of obesity. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, suggest that dietary advice may need to focus more on a person's digestive system, based on whether they have the genetic predisposition and necessary enzymes to digest different foods.
The salivary amylase gene plays a significant role in breaking down carbohydrates in the mouth at the start of the digestion process. The new study suggests that people with fewer copies of the AMY1 gene have lower levels of this enzyme and so have more difficulty breaking down carbohydrates than those with more copies.
Previous research has found a genetic link between obesity and food behaviours and appetite, but the discovery highlights a genetic link between metabolism and obesity.