"There certainly are other factors here that are important that we don't know about," Pothos said. "The FTO gene has an important role here, but it's not the only factor."
The possibility exists that other hormonal and neural pathways related to obesity are unlocked through the same mechanism that causes increased ghrelin production, said Ruth Loos, director of the genetics of obesity and related metabolic traits program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.
"It's a very complex interaction they describe. It's a very nice story. It all fits nicely together, and it provides the first insights into how FTO might contribute to obesity," Loos said. "But more research is required."
Study author Batterham said this in no way should convince people with this genetic variant that they are helpless against obesity.
"At a therapeutic level, this arms us with some important new insights to help in the fight against the obesity pandemic," she said. "For example, we know that ghrelin can be reduced by exercise like running and cycling, or by eating a high-protein diet. There are also some drugs in the pipeline that suppress ghrelin, which might be particularly effective if they are targeted to patients with the obesity-risk variant of the FTO gene."
For more about obesity, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.