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The idea that obesity might be linked to the brain is one that scientists have been juggling for some time, and new research findings indicate that it could be the case.

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen conducted a study to establish whether obesity has its roots in the brain, as previously speculated. Scientific research conducted in the past decade paved the way for the discovery of hundreds of genetic variants that pointed towards a higher risk of obesity. However, recent research answers some critical questions regarding the link between obesity and the brain.

The University of Copenhagen researchers discovered cells in the body that they believe are key building blocks for obesity. Associate Professor Tune H Pers said the research findings provide sufficient evidence indicating that biological processes are not in the scope of traditional obesity research contribute to obesity in humans. The findings of the latest study were published in the eLife journal.

“We identified cell types in the brain that regulate memory, behavior, and processing of sensory information that is involved in the development of the disease,” stated Professor Pers.

The study identified a population of brain cells that cause obesity

The researchers developed computational tools that leverage two sets of data. The first was a genome study data where the data was collected from almost half a million people. The data evaluated and compared various aspects, including body weight, physical attributes, and health, and the data was also compared with the unique genomes of the subject. The results revealed that there are some common characteristics in gene variants in obese individuals.

The second set of data featured single-cell RNA-sequencing data collected from roughly 700 different mice. The data revealed that different genome parts are produced by different cells. The data set, therefore, highlights each cell population’s different genetic fingerprint. The CBMR tea integrated the two data sets and discovered that 26 cell populations expressed genes heavily associated with obesity. They also observed that those cells behaved like different types of brain cells or neurons. The 26 cell populations process sensory stimuli, and they initiate feeding behaviors. The study findings are important because they prove that obesity is not a lack of self-control.