Food intake control

Overweight and obesity are a worldwide health problem and cause an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that can have negative effects on health. The increase in its prevalence globally is mainly due to the way we eat and our lifestyle habits. However, there are certain people who have a greater tendency to be overweight, possibly in part due to their genetics.

Body weight and fat percentage and distribution are finely regulated by multiple hormones and neuropeptides. These molecules act on the nervous system regulating the sensation of appetite and satiety. On the other hand, there are substances such as neurotransmitters (dopamine) that when released generate pleasure when eating, contributing to food motivation.

Variants in genes involved in the regulation of appetite and satiety are crucial to understand why some people have a greater tendency to eat high-calorie foods and snack between meals than others and, therefore, a greater predisposition to accumulate fat.

The hormone leptin and neuropeptide-Y (NP-Y) are two of the most important regulators of appetite and energy homeostasis.

Based on several studies that analyze dieting behavior and addictive behaviors, 7 genetic markers have been identified that appear to be related to the tendency to eat more food.

These markers are found in genes such as the LEPR gene, which encodes the production of a protein that acts as a receptor for the hormone leptin, involved in the regulation of body weight and in the regulation of food intake by sending satiety signals to the hypothalamus of the brain after binding to leptin.

On the other hand, we can find the ANKK1 gene, which has been related to a possible alteration of dopamine binding, a key factor in the brain's reward system; the FTO gene, associated with an increased food intake, especially of carbohydrates and high-calorie foods, caused by a reduction of the calcium content in the brain's hypothalamus.The NPY gene, which codes for neuropeptide-Y associated with leptin levels, and the MC4R gene, which is involved in the development of melanocortins with important functions in appetite regulation.

Number of observed variants

13.5 million variants

Number of variants analyzed in the study

7 variants


Hohmann S, Buchmann AF, Witt SH, Rietschel M, Jennen-Steinmetz C, Schmidt MH, et al. Increasing association between a neuropeptide Y promoter polymorphism and body mass index during the course of development. Pediatr. Obes. .7(6):453–60.

Mutschler J, Abbruzzese E, Wiedemann K, von der Goltz C, Dinter C, Mobascher A, et al. Functional polymorphism in the neuropeptide Y gene promoter (rs16147) is associated with serum leptin levels and waist-hip ratio in women. Ann. Nutr. Metab.

Word Health Organization (WHO) [June 2021]

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