WEEKLY UPDATE: February 8, 2020
SUMMARY: Identification of a novel regions on chromosome 11 that is associated with lower body mass index, lower insulin resistance, and favorable blood lipid levels.
OVERVIEW: Obesity is a serious health problem that is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic risk factors. It is increasing in prevalence worldwide. Although genome-wide association studies have identified ~1,000 genetic variants associated with body mass index (BMI), which is a proxy of obesity, these genetic variants only explain ~6% of the heritability of BMI. In this study, researchers examined genomes of over 4,600 Greenlanders, an isolated population that harbors genetic diversity not found elsewhere, to identify additional genetic variants associated with BMI. They discovered a genetic variant on chromosome 11, rs4936356, located in an intergenic region. The effect allele is significantly associated with lower BMI, lower insulin resistance, and favorable blood lipid levels.
DID YOU KNOW? Historically, Greenlanders had to endure extended periods of fasting due to limited food supply. Due to their geographic location, their diet is high-fat, primarily comprised of fish. Therefore, it is possible that their enhanced ability to burn fat instead of storing it has put them at lower risk of developing obesity. [SOURCE]