Fat: A Genetic Puzzle

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Jack Shea
Staff Writer

The American Council on Exercise considers approximately 10 to 20 percent body fat a healthy fat percentage range for optimal functioning in adults.

According to researchers in the American Diabetes Association’s journal, Diabetes, knowing the best ways to keep this healthy range requires more research, as well as a closer look at DNA.

Dr. Satya Ande, a molecular biologist at the Georgia Cancer Center and Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, directed the study of genes that revitalize red blood cells. His research, published in March, focused on learning the ways genes quash or express cancerous inceptions, which led to recent enlightenment about the properties of Id1.

Id1, a protein responsible for regulating multiple cellular functions and distributions, impacts the body’s fat storage, according to an American Diabetes Association study.

Ande and his research team discovered lower levels of Id1 DNA in youth, explaining why the aging body struggles to keep weight off. Id1 deactivates PGC 1alpha, or the body’s thermogenesis control.

Stopping thermogenesis, or the body’s creation of energy from food, obstructs the production of brown fat cells. Brown fat aids the body during the thermogenesis process, keeping the body warm. This discovery may help us understand the cycle of aging.

The same study revealed Id1 DNA decreases Ebf2, or the body’s creation of healthy beige fat. Both beige and brown fats promote metabolic well-being and prevent against disease. Active, healthy metabolisms require consistency in exercise, food intake, and weight management. Cutting off the production of brown and beige fats leads to metabolic stress and increased weight gain.

Ande’s study founded more ID1 DNA in older specimens, hence the increasing difficulty of weight loss with age. His team’s findings excite health professionals and evoke hope for more solutions to the global obesity epidemic.

“I completely believe there are genetic components to obesity, and I think it’s important to continue that kind of genetic research. This is going to be huge down the road in terms of figuring out the obesity issue since it’s such an epidemic now,” says UCSB’s Exercise and Sports Certification Advisor Amy Jamieson.

The epidemic doesn’t stop there. A skinny fat epidemic remains an issue across many developed nations, especially in the USA. Unhealthy individuals can have a normal body mass index, appear to be thin, and still be at risk for having major health issues. This is because of excess fat storage in inactive people with poor diets, who appear thin due to hip and abdominal fat storage. Even our political leaders struggle with the issue, and it does not seem likely to change anytime soon.

ID1’s influence proves to be detrimental to many body functions. It demands more scientific interest and study because of its linkage to neurological impairment and prostate cancer in recent studies. The implications of the aforementioned findings suggest that the worst diseases and biological impairments caused by ID1 are possibly yet to be found. Research such as Ande’s potentially entails world-changing results, benefiting the health of humans everywhere with access to healthcare.

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