Largest ever genome-wide study strengthens genetic link to obesity

There are many reasons why people gain different amounts of weight and why fat becomes stored in different parts of their bodies. Now researchers, partly of the DZD, conducted the largest study of genetic variation to date to home in on genetic reasons. Their findings were published today in companion papers – genome-wide association studies – in the journal "Nature".

By analyzing genetic samples from more than 300,000 individuals to study obesity and body fat distribution, researchers in the international Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium completed the largest study of genetic variation to date, and found over 140 locations across the genome that play roles in various obesity traits.  By applying novel computational methods to the genetic results, they discovered new biological pathways that are important in controlling body weight and fat distribution. 
GIANT also includes scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden. Some of the investigated data belong to the German KORA*-studies.

press release of GIANT


Further Information
* KORA (Kooperative Gesundheitsforschung in der Region Augsburg)
For more than 20 years, the Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) has been examining the health of thousands of citizens in Augsburg and environs. The aim of the project is to increase understanding of the impact of environmental factors, behaviour and genes on human health. The KORA studies focus on matters relating to the development and progression of chronic diseases, in particular myocardial infarction and diabetes mellitus. To that end, research is conducted into risk factors arising from lifestyle factors (including smoking, diet and exercise), environmental factors (including air pollution and noise) and genetics. Questions relating to the use and cost of health services are examined from the point of view of health services research.

Original publications:
Locke, A. et al. (2015). Genetic Studies of Body Mass Index Yield New Insights for Obesity Biology, Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature14177

Link to publication

Shungin, D. et al. (2015). New Genetic Loci Link Adipose and Insulin Biology to Body Fat Distribution, Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature14132

Link to publication