Our bodies are really not good at dealing with overabundance and leisure.
Instead, through the millennia they’ve been configured to move and use fuel efficiently. Today, those who would be well adapted to survive famine become highly susceptible to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease instead.
Obesity and its accompanying health issues are at epidemic levels in the United States. And for many people, it’s not realistic for them to overcome metabolic disorders through behavioral intervention alone. We need to help those at risk learn to use calories so that enough does not so easily become too much.
What genes help to determine our weight? That’s a trick question, because no one really knows, and estimates range from hundreds to over a thousand genes play at least a small role. Research at The Jackson Laboratory isolated one of the most important (leptin) and is ongoing into this huge genetic puzzle.
Why are 90% of type 2 diabetes patients obese, but only 10% of obese people develop diabetes? Using mice whose single-gene mutations cause obesity and type 2 diabetes, Professor Juergen Naggert, Ph.D., is seeking clear answers within the complicated genetic network.
Cholesterol used to be the cardiovascular disease villain. Now it’s not so simple. We still have bad cholesterol (LDL), but now there’s good cholesterol (HDL), which may be more important. Professor Bev Paigen is investigating ways to raise HDL levels as an alternative preventive or curative therapy.