Research has discovered a direct connection between an overactive FTO gene and obesity.
The team of scientists from the University of Oxford and the Medical Research Council (MRC) obtained what is thought to be the first direct evidence that the gene's over activity leads to overeating and obesity.
Their results of the trials, which used mice, were published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Future obesity treatments could consider targeting the gene to help deal with the health issue.
Chris Church, a PhD student from MRC Harwell and first author on the study, said: "For the first time we have provided convincing proof that the FTO gene causes obesity.
"The next step is to understand how it does this, for instance whether it increases appetite by influencing our brain or alters messages from our fat stores and other tissues. Once we know how FTO causes obesity we have the potential to look at developing drugs to treat it."
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