It’s the holidays and by default, everyone is inclined to eat excessively, but before you stuff all kinds of food down your throat, you should know their effects on your DNA.

A large-scale international study coordinated by Helmholtz Zentrum München has found possible correlations between body mass index (BMI) and epigenetic changes.

Epigenetics is the study of how human behaviours and experiences can modify their DNA, and have an effect on the traits passed to future generations.

The scientists examined the blood samples of over 10,000 women and men from Europe.

A large proportion of the women were selected because of their Indian ancestry and high-risk of obesity and metabolic diseases.

Apart from learning that a high BMI leads to significant epigenetic changes, the team of researchers was able to identify epigenetic markers that could predict the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“In particular, significant changes were found in the expression of genes responsible for lipid metabolism and substrate transport, but inflammation-related gene loci were also affected,” said group leader, Harald Grallert.

Simone Wahl of the Research Unit Molecular Epidemiology (AME) at Helmholtz Zentrum München, said: “This issue is particularly relevant because an estimated one and a half billion people throughout the world are overweight especially considering that being overweight can have adverse consequences and lead to diabetes and diseases of the cardiovascular and metabolic systems.”

The research which has been published in ‘Nature’, was led by Christian Gieger and Harald Grallert of the AME as well as Jaspal Kooner and John Chambers of Imperial College London.



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