Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Obesity is currently seen as one of the world's biggest health problems, as it affects millions of people of all ages, ethnicities, and environments. One's risk to becoming obese is primarily determined by their genetics, lifestyle, and diet, and much research is being done to better understand how these affect the problem on a deeper level. An article written for Science Daily discusses scientists' recent finding of a genetic receptor that plays a role in developing obesity. 

Scientists at King's College London and Imperial College London have been looking at how the FFAR2 (Free Fatty Acid Receptor 2) receptor affects the role of fermentable carbohydrates in the body. Fermentable carbohydrates are found in things such as bread, fruits, and vegetables, and are called fermentable carbohydrates because they are fermented easily in the digestive system. To test how these and the FFAR2 receptor combined affect the body, the scientists fed mice, with and without the FFAR2 receptor, foods high in fat containing fermentable carbohydrates and compared the results from these tests to a control group. It was found that mice with the FFAR2 receptor did not become obese despite the high fat diet, but the mice without the FFAR2 receptor did suffer from obesity.The mice with the FFAR2 receptor showed an increase in hormones that made them feel fuller faster, ultimately preventing the obesity. Because of this study, scientists can better understand how diet can affect appetite regulation, and they can now look into the possibility of changing the gut with diet or pharmaceuticals to treat obesity and many other gastrointestinal disorders. Professor Gary Frost, one of the leaders of the study made the comment that, "the fact it actually has a major impact on cells that help control appetite regulation in the colon is amazing." Because of this their next step is applying the knowledge from this study to humans and eventually create food systems to help people suffering from obesity. 

This article intrigued me as I know a vast number of people in the world suffer from obesity, including members of my family and friends. The impact of obesity is huge, and as a nursing major I know in my future I will likely be faced with patients who suffer from obesity every single day. I want to be able to offer these patients the best advice that I can, so I'm glad research is being done on treating the problem.

King's College London. (2016, November 25). New target receptor discovered in the fight against obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 5, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161125104749.htm

  • No labels

3 Comments

  1. I am also a nursing major, which is why I found this study so interesting. In my Spanish writing class this semester, I wrote an exposition on whether obesity is a disease or not. I argued that it is not a disease because it is mainly due to a sedentary lifestyle and poor life choices, but after reading this particular study, my opinion has swayed a bit. I am still a strong believer that obesity is largely caused by a sedentary lifestyle, but it is new information to me that obesity could be partly dictated by the FFAR2 receptor. Obviously, a person cannot change his/her genes. This would cause obesity to be a genetic disease since the FFAR2 receptor is encoded in genes and affects the role of fermentable carbohydrates in the body, which causes obesity. Obesity is a very intriguing and complex topic to me, and I am hoping to work with those that are obese at some point in my nursing career. 

  2. Most genetic "causes" of obesity don't directly cause obesity, but instead cause appetite deregulation and at best modest metabolic changes. That isn't to dismiss the impact that these genes can have - if a person has "addiction genes" it doesn't that mean they are forced to abuse drugs or alcohol, in the same way that someone with cystic fibrosis, for instance, has no control over their disease, but it's still clear that addiction has a powerful inherited component that can be hard to overcome. Similarly, while people who have genetic variants that reduce satiety, such as missing a FFAR2 receptor, can restrict their caloric intake in order to maintain a normal weight, it is significantly more challenging for them than for people who seem to maintain healthy weight naturally. I think understanding this is key for health care providers who wish to provide supportive and considerate guidance to patients seeking to lose weight, as opposed to merely taking the standard insensitive, ineffective "why can't you just eat less and exercise more?" approach.

  3. I also want to go into the field of health care so the title of this piece caught by eye. Previously, I thought that the causes of obesity were primarily due to poor lifestyle choices. Like Tanner, this article made me see another side to the argument. People without this FFAR2 receptor have a genetic disadvantage compared with the people who do. However, I do see Emma's point that although it is more challenging to maintain a healthy weight for those without the receptor, they still can restrict their caloric intake. I am curious as to if possessing this particular receptor is hereditary and what other receptors that have yet to be discovered also have a significant impact on if a person is obese or not. I hope that more research will be done on this topic in the future.