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GENES THAT STOP YOU GETTING INTO YOUR JEANS; Why many of us love our deep-fried food.

Byline: Melanie Harvey

IT seems there is a gene to blame for everything - from the size of our waist to our ability to be faithful.

The latest research into genes claims it can also explain the Scottish taste for fried foods and alcohol.

Dropping pizza, sausages and even Mars bars, below, into batter and a pan of fat then washing it down with a beer is all down to genes apparently.

According to Aberdeen University researcher Alasdair MacKenzie, we have a genetic switch that controls the brain chemical galanin.

He told the British Science Festival in Bradford that 83 per cent of Europeans have the gene, compared with 70 per cent of people in China.

Dr MacKenzie said: "There are two versions of this galanin switch. A person could have a weaker one that produces relatively low amounts and so triggers only a mild urge to consume fatty foods or alcohol.

"Alternatively, a person might have the strong version, which triggers a high output of galanin and stimulates a strong urge for fatty foods."

So, what else do the scientists link to genes? THE FAT GENE A gene that contributes to obesity was discovered a few years ago, promising to explain why some people put on weight while others with similar lifestyles stay slim.

People who inherit one version of the gene rather than another are 70 per cent more likely to be obese, according to scientists at Oxford University. One in six people has the most vulnerable genetic make-up and weighs an average 3kg more than those with the lowest risk. They also have 15 per cent more body fat.

The findings provided the first robust link between a common gene and obesity, allowing the overweight to say: "It's not my fault I'm fat, I inherited it."

THE LOVE RAT GENE Scientists gave unfaithful partners a get-out clause when they discovered a gene that raises the odds of cheating.

Researchers quizzed 180 young men and women about their attitude towards relationships and tested them for a gene called DRD4, which affects levels of the brain chemical dopamine.

The one quarter or so with the love rat version of the gene were more than twice as likely to be unfaithful.

Researcher Justin Garcia, from the University of New York, said: "What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands."

THE ATHLETIC GENE The perfect news for couch potatoes - they are lacking the athletic gene.

University researchers working on mice, removed two genes in their muscles that are essential for exercise and then found they were not able do as much as their healthier counterparts.

The genes control the AMPactivated protein kinase, an enzyme that is switched on when you exercise.

Dr Gregory Steinberg, of Canada's McMaster University, said the breakthrough may lead to treatments for people who found it hard to exercise.

THE HAPPINESS GENE Why is it some people are bright and cheery no matter what and others always look like they are under a cloud? According to researchers in London, it could all be down to a happiness gene.

Those with two sets of the gene - one from each parent - are almost twice as likely to say they are satisfied with life.

The gene, called 5-HTT, is responsible for how well nerve cells manage to distribute serotonin, a chemical produced by the pineal gland in the brain, which helps control mood. Behavioural economists at the London School of Economic and Political Science found evidence that people with the "functional" variant of the 5-HTT gene tend to lead happier lives.

THE SMELLY GENE Next time you think the person next to you on the bus with terrible BO has forgotten to put on deodorant, think again - they might have the smelly gene.

The condition, known clinically as trimethylaminuria, is caused by emitting excessive amounts of the compound trimethylamine (TMA).

TMA is produced when people digest foods rich in a substance called choline - including saltwater fish, eggs, liver and certain legumes, such as soy and kidney beans.

Scientists at the Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia found trimethylaminuria is caused by defects in a gene known as FMO3, which hinder the body's ability to metabolise TMA and turn it into odour-free compounds.

THE COFFEE GENE Ever wondered why some people prefer coffee to tea? According to Australian researchers, some people have a genetic variant that makes them want to consume more caffeine. The Scientists from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research found coffee consumption is not only influenced by genes, but caffeine also affects the expression of other genes.

Researcher Dr Enda Byrne said: "With caffeine impacting gene expression, we believe that caffeine then influences chemical pathways in the body."
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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion, Columns
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 16, 2011
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