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Can You Lose Weight Despite Having A Sweet Tooth?

By Devika Bandyopadhya

According to a study, there is a specific gene that some of us possess that makes us crave sweet dishes and which in turn is also responsible for lesser body fat compared to those who do not have this specific gene variant.

What Is A Sweet Tooth?

A person with an extreme liking for sugary treats such as sweets and chocolates is said to have a "sweet tooth".

having a sweet tooth

What is FGF21?

FGF21, or Fibroblast Growth Factor 21, is a protein found in mammals. It is encoded by the gene FGF21. It is a member of the endocrine subfamily. Being part of the FGF family, it is capable of participating in various processes such as cell growth, tissue repair, tumor growth, embryonic development, etc.

Gene That Makes You Crave Sweet Dishes

Scientists and researchers at the University of Copenhagen came up with a study, according to which, when the gene FGF21 is found with a particular variation, it results in a craving for alcohol and sugary stuffs.

Test on about 450,000 people were conducted in Europe to verify the results of the study. Health records of the people under study were examined. The documents submitted by the people who were ready to be studied were questionnaires on diet and their genetic information along with their blood samples.

The test results confirmed the fact that the people who possessed a variation of this particular gene, referred to as the "genetic sweet tooth" were less likely to be at the risk of obesity and diabetes, when compared to those who did not possess this specific variation of the gene.

Co-author of the study, Timothy Frayling, said in an interview post the results of the study were announced, that the current perception that eating too much of sugary dishes is bad for one's health is actually not true for the people who have this variation of the gene FGF21. According to the test conducted on various people in Europe, about 20 percent of them possessed this particular "genetic sweet tooth".

Other Outcomes Of The Study

Although the results of the study showed that people with "genetic sweet tooth" were not affected negatively when they consumed sugary treats in enormous amounts, yet there was a not-so-positive outcome as well. It was found that the people with the variation in the gene FGF21 had high blood pressure issues. Also, fat in the body of people with this genetic variation was found to be much more accumulated around their waist instead of around their hips, which resulted in a so called "apple shape" figure.

In spite of hypertension, it was found that people with this form of genetic variation were not at the risk of any form of heart diseases or from being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Through extensive research and study, it was understood that this gene possessed pleiotropic effects, with varied effects on the intake of macronutrient to the shape of the body and the levels of blood pressure.

To Be Used For Medical Treatments

Post the results of the study were out; researchers have begun to conduct intensive studies further so that they can use the hormone that the gene FGF21 produces for the possible treatments of various medical conditions in the people who possess the "genetic sweet tooth".

In a press release, the co-author of the study, Niels Grarup, said that as the gene FGF21 is associated with sugar, possible treatments can be found out to employ it in the treatment of diabetes and obesity in general.

A nutrition scientist at the Sydney University, Stephen Simpson, says that the results from the study conducted in Europe needs to be reconsidered because of the idea that has been promoted through its results. He is of the viewpoint that no matter what, consumption of sugary dishes is surely bad, despite the fact that your genetic variation may favor it. He says that further exploration and study needs to be conducted on the facts generated.

In short, the study of the variant of gene FGF21 when conducted on more than 450,000 people made certain that this gene variant was capable of making people eat more sweets without the chances of them accumulating a lot of fat or in turn becoming obese.

However, the study also revealed that such people were at the risk of having thicker and bulkier waist lines and high blood pressure issues. Nevertheless, it is good news for those with this form of a genetic variation, where they no longer consider or blame sugar to be the villain behind their never-ending weight gain.

Read more about: weight loss diet
Story first published: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 10:30 [IST]
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