Health Highlights: Dec. 8, 2009

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Missing DNA may be linked to obesity in some children, according to British researchers.

They analyzed the DNA of 300 extremely obese children (220 pounds by age 10) and pinpointed a deletion on chromosome 16 that occurs in less than 1 percent of about 1,200 severely obese children, the Associated Press reported.

This deletion means the children lack a gene that the brain needs to respond to the appetite-controlling hormone leptin, said study co-leader Dr. Sadaf Farooqi of Cambridge University.

Children with this deletion "have a very strong drive to eat," and they're "very, very hungry, they always want to eat," Farooqi said, the AP reported.

The study appears online in the journal Nature.

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