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Genetic study explains young adult obesity threat

Tuesday May 30th, 2017

Researchers in Bristol, UK, say they have used genetic analysis to show how obesity causes poor cardiovascular health in the young.

According to the researchers, excess weight in young adults causes hypertrophy of the left venticle of the heart, affecting the volume of blood pumped.

They say that their genetic analysis has allowed them to distinguish between cause and effect in the relationship between weight and heart function among young adults aged between 17 and 21.

They reported their findings to the conference of the European Society of Human Genetics in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The analysis used details of the 14,000 families in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

The researchers say they have shown how obesity contributes to poor cardiovascular health in this age group - and that they have also shown it is not responsible for increased heart rate.

Researcher Dr Kaitlin Wade said: “It is the first time that the nature of this relationship has been shown in group of young adults where it has been possible to draw improved conclusions about its causation."

“Whilst randomised controlled trials are important for disentangling cause and effect in disease, they are expensive, time-consuming and labour-intensive. Modern genomics allows us to detect causality more quickly and cheaply, and the availability of large quantities of genetic data means that we can overcome the limitations of observational epidemiological studies.

"We believe that there are clear messages for cardiovascular health in our findings and we hope that they may lead to increased efforts to tackle obesity from early life.”

Conference chair Professor Joris Veltman, of Newcastle University, UK, said: “Distinguishing between correlation and causation is tremendously difficult in medical sciences, especially for complex interactions like those between obesity and cardiovascular disease. In this study, statistical genetics approaches were applied to longitudinal cohorts from the UK to improve this."

Abstract: Assessing the causal role of body mass index on cardiovascular health in young adults: a Mendelian randomization and recall-by-genotype analysis

Tags: Diet & Food | Europe | Genetics | Infancy to Adolescence | UK News

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