Gene study holds hope for overweight Kiwis

  • 01/09/2015

Overweight Kiwis may soon be able to shed their kilos more easily thanks to new research poised to uncover links between genes and obesity.

Auckland University has announced the largest-ever study to identify genes that predispose New Zealanders to obesity and the metabolic disorder type-2 diabetes.

Researchers will enlist 600 people at risk of these conditions and test them for the presence of up to 500 genes suspected of affecting appetite and control of energy metabolism.

The study's clinical co-director Dr Rinki Murphy said the world-first research has the potential to dramatically deepen understanding of obesity and diabetes.

"There are clearly biological factors that predispose some people to greater risk of developing obesity and diabetes and if we can identify genes that play a role in this we will be better placed to successfully tackle these major diseases," Dr Murphy said.

The work is supported by Cambridge University obesity expert Dr Giles Yeo whose trailing-blazing research attempted for the first time to match people's genetics with an appropriate diet to try to achieve better long-term weight loss.

"I believe there is a high likelihood this will lead to better strategies for achieving and maintaining weight loss in New Zealanders," Dr Yeo said of the new research.

The study was announced at the annual Queenstown Research Week today.

The first results will be available early next year.