Such a test could help patients who are on the fence about having the weight-loss procedure, he said. Gastric bypass can be very beneficial for severely obese people, but also carries some risk, especially for those with other significant health problems.
Further studies are needed to clarify the role of the genetic variation identified in the study and, because most of this study's participants were of European descent, to look for other variants that might apply to different ethnic groups.
Kaplan said he also wants to see if they might get the same results with other kinds of weight-loss procedures.
"Genetics makes a contribution to weight loss after surgery. This has put the wind in our sails so now we can go after other questions," he said.
For more information about weight-loss surgery, visit the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
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