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Clues to molecular basis for obesity revealed

Researchers may have found evidence to explain why the same diet can cause some to gain more weight than others.

A study conducted in mice found that the molecule Bsx controls the subconscious fidgety movements made when animals are hungry.

Such spontaneous activity provides the drive needed to seek out food.

Mice lacking the molecule Bsx were less spontaneously active and had a low concentration of "feeding hormones".

"Mice that lack Bsx in their hypothalamus are a lot lazier than normal mice. They show less spontaneous activity and less food seeking behaviour, which is based on locomotor activity," says Mathias Treier from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

He adds that Bsx may also help brain cells to sense and respond to hunger signals.

"Bsx is is conserved across species and very likely plays a similar role in controlling body weight in humans," says key researcher Maria Sakkou.

"Bsx might be the key to why the same diet makes one person fat, while leaving another unaffected."

European Moelcular Biology Laboratory