Early weight gain in children linked to ability to produce the hormone leptin

November 23, 2020

Young children of African ancestry are more at risk of developing obesity if they possess a genetic variant that reduces their ability to produce the hormone leptin. Adults with the variant do not have the same risk, suggesting that leptin plays a role in the development of obesity at a young age but the obesity does not continue into adulthood.

This is one of the findings made in an international study by scientists at the University of Copenhagen, University of Exeter, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and others, who investigated the role of genetics in controlling leptin levels.

"Our findings suggest that young children might be particularly sensitive to the effect of leptin in controlling their body weight," says Associate Professor Tuomas Kilpeläinen from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen.

Understanding variation in leptin levels through genetics

It has long been established that the hormone leptin is released by the body's fat tissue and tells the brain how much fat is stored on the body - the more body fat a person has, the higher the levels of leptin. The brain uses this information to regulate a person's appetite and food intake.

Leptin levels vary between individuals, however, and around 10 to 20 percent of individuals with obesity have the same leptin levels as individuals with normal weight. This variation raises questions about the role leptin plays in regulating weight.

In the research, published in Diabetes, the scientists screened the genome of more than 55,000 people for genetic variants that affect leptin levels. They identified five new genetic variants that play a role in regulating leptin levels.

Leptin may play a stronger role in weight control in children, than adults.

One of the variations, Vel94Met, which reduces the amount of leptin that the body produces, is only found in individuals of African ancestry. Young people with this variation are more at risk of developing obesity, though this is not true of adults with the variation, who tend to be of similar weight as other adults.

This finding supports the theory that people become less sensitive to leptin with age. Administering leptin to obese adults has proven ineffective at controlling their weight.

"This new knowledge on the impact of leptin in the weight control of young people now needs to be followed up with further studies to uncover the molecular mechanisms that underlie this age-dependent relationship between leptin and BMI," says Associate Professor Tuomas Kilpeläinen.

University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Related Obesity Articles from Brightsurf:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.

Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.

Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?

Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.

Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.

Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.

Read More: Obesity News and Obesity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.