An international research consortium has released a study that identifies 18 new gene sites linked to overall obesity and a related report that pinpoints 13 new gene sites connected to fat distribution. Published in the October 2010 online edition of Nature Genetics, the studies relied on data from approximately 250,000 participants to gain an understanding of why some people are susceptible to obesity.

Researchers reportedly concluded that people with more than 38 genetic variants linked to increased body mass index were 15 to 20 pounds heavier than those who carried fewer than 22 of the variants. In the fat-distribution study, researchers found women were more inclined to have genetic variants that predicted fat development in the hips and thighs rather than the abdomen.

Participating researchers told a news source that discovering which genes play a role in obesity could lead to underlying biological processes that could eventually help treat the condition. “If we could understand a lot more about why people are resistant to our environment and stay lean despite all the pressures there are to gain weight, we’d have a better shot at getting better therapies than we have now,” Boston researcher Joel Hirschhorn said. See The Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2010.