The presence of increased body fat, and therefore higher levels of inflammatory substances in the blood, hinders the loss and maintenance of body weight; as shown by a research project of the University of Navarra conducted by Estíbaliz Goyenechea Soto, a scientist at the School of Pharmacy. The project, entitled “A nutrigenetic and nutrigenomic study in relation to the control of body weight and inflammation,” examines how the individual genetics of obese patients can help or hinder weight loss when dieting and even influence the subsequent long term maintenance of their weight loss.
Some overweight or obese people have mutated or altered genes that initially make it difficult to lose weight and later make it easier to regain lost body weight in a period of six months or a year. This problem occurs similarly in patients who have higher levels of inflammatory substances in their blood.
This genetic predisposition, along with external and personal factors such as inadequate dietary habits or physical inactivity, predispose patients to obesity and the complications that arise from it (diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and high blood pressure) which in turn increase cardiovascular risk.
The future: customized diets
The study, conducted by the Department of Food Sciences, Physiology and Toxicology has provided new data on the genetic and plasma biomarkers that predict the response of obese patients to specific diets. The goal is to develop customized therapeutic strategies in the near future based on the genetic characteristics of each person.
A bank of biomarkers (genes and proteins) capable of predicting a person’s response to weight loss would enable doctors to know, with a simple blood test, how each patient would react to different types of nutritional intervention.
The study involved 180 overweight or obese patients, who followed a hypo-caloric (low energy) diet for 8 weeks and were evaluated after six months and again a year after the end of the dietary intervention.