Study of Childhood Obesity Finds “Patients Are Not Doomed by their Genes”

The readers should take away that lifestyle factors are most important regarding successful weight-loss strategies. Interview with:
Melanie Heitkamp, PhD
Department of Prevention and Sports Medicine
Centre for Sports Cardiology, University Hospital
Technical University of Munich
Munich, Germany  What is the background for this study?

Response: There are genetic loci influencing obesity risk in children, which have been identified by large genome-wide association studies. However, the current knowledge about associations between these obesity related genes and obesity treatment success is scarce and the results of previous studies are inconsistent. However, it is an important question as there is a wide inter-individual response to obesity treatment. What are the main findings?

Response: Our study reveals that 5 out of 56 selected genetic variants were associated with body weight changes over a 4-6 weeks inpatient lifestyle intervention in children with obesity. However, the change was relatively small. Furthermore, three genetic variants were associated with even greater weight loss in individuals carrying the risk allele vs. not carrying the risk allele. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The readers should take away that lifestyle factors are most important regarding successful weight-loss strategies. And as it is accurately formulated in the editorial of the journal: “Patients are not doomed by their genes”. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: There are wide more genetic variants, which are known to be associated with Body Mass Index. They need to be investigated in further studies. In addition, it might be interesting to determine wether other non-obesity-related genes may impact body weight changes.


Heitkamp M, Siegrist M, Molnos S, et al. Obesity Genes and Weight Loss During Lifestyle Intervention in Children With Obesity. JAMA Pediatr. Published online December 14, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.5142

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Last Updated on December 15, 2020 by weightcontrol