Genes influence who steals from the cookie jar

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: August 29th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you can’t seem to stay away from decadent chocolate cake, creamy caramels and other sugary snacks, you might have a scientific excuse.

University of Toronto researchers say a genetic variant may cause some people to crave and consume larger amounts of sugary foods, while others fail to bat an eyelash at glazed and frosted treats.

The findings, published in the online edition of Physiological Genomics, point to the gene variation glucose transporter type two [GLUT2]. Researchers say it controls sugar entry into cells and helps the brain regulate food intake.

Scientists tested the effects of the gene variation in one-hundred-twenty-five older, overweight and obese adults, as well as nearly seven-hundred generally healthy young adults.

The older group kept food diaries for three days and repeated the procedure two weeks later. The younger group answered questionnaires about their monthly eating habits.

After analyzing blood and D-N-A samples, they found that individuals with the gene variation consumed more sugars regardless of age or sex.

Older participants consumed more sugars than their non-variant counterparts in the same age group, while young individuals with the variant consumed more sweetened beverages and treats than the non-variants in their age group.

The findings may excuse some people’s propensity for all things sugary, but it doesn’t make up for unhealthy eating habits. Everyone should try to incorporate nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and exercise into their lifestyle.

Future long-term studies may help provide further insight into the troubling rates of obesity and diabetes worldwide.