New Polygenic Risk Score Gives Hints Towards Obesity Risk
A new polygenic risk score, published recently in Cell journal, tested data from 300,000 people to forecast potential risk of obesity. Among other things, the study found that 10% of adults with the highest genetic risk were around 29 pounds heavier on average, and 25 times more likely to become severely obese, than the 10% whose genes were most likely to keep them slim.
Polygenic risk scores are currently being adopted slowly, due to the uncertainty around level of influence environment has on the human body, in particular on obesity.
This new score is said to be more powerful than any past obesity genetic tests, but currently may not be powerful enough to use in a clinical setting as a way to inform individuals of their condition or intervene before they become obese.
The researchers, led by Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a geneticist at the Broad Institute, suggested the test could be used as a screening tool for children between birth and eight years old, though they said they did not know which interventions should be given to high-risk children, nor that there was evidence such interventions had any effect.
While the score showed that 10% of the population has inherited genetic risk of being 20-30 pounds heavier, around 17% of those individuals still had a normal weight range, proving that genetics was not the only factor in determining such weight.