Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Genes Pinpointed for Common Childhood Obesity

Study Suggests Genes Play a Role in Early Life Weight Gain
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 8, 2012 -- An international team of researchers says they've found at least two new gene markers that appear to increase the risk for common childhood obesity.

Little is known about the gene markers, which sit on chromosomes 13 and 17. But they are positioned close to and within genes that are thought to be involved in how the gut functions.

What?s more, the markers do not appear to be active in obese adults, leading researchers to conclude that they exert their influence within the first years of life.

"We see a clear genetic signature to childhood obesity, showing that there?s more than just an environmental component to the disease," says researcher Struan F.A. Grant, PhD, associate director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children?s Hospital of Philadelphia, at a news conference.

The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.

The discovery of a genetic component to childhood obesity does not mean a child who inherits these gene markers is fated to be fat.

Instead, the new markers help explain why obesity runs in families. They may also help explain why some kids, given the roughly the same diets and patterns of physical activity as their peers, may pack on pounds while others stay relatively slim.

"If we can understand how inherited risk factors change susceptibility to obesity -- what's different about the biology of people who are resistant to obesity vs. those who are susceptible -- we would get clues for new therapies or interventions that could be safer and more effective than what is currently available," says researcher Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Basic and Translational Obesity Research at Children?s Hospital Boston, in an email.

"It's very, very exciting," says Nancy Copperman, MS, RD, director of public health initiatives for the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.

Tracking Genes Linked to Childhood Obesity

For the study, researchers took a new look at genetic information collected from more than 5,500 obese children and 8,300 normal-weight kids in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration