Beer-Belly Gene Found

Gene Type Linked to Fat Abs in Men

Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD on January 06, 2003
From the WebMD Archives

Jan. 6, 2003 -- It's the end of the season for too much TV football, too much food, and, well, too much. But now some men can put the blame for their beer guts on something else -- their parents.

Men who inherit a certain gene from both parents have a higher risk of abdominal fat, an Italian study finds.

"Overweight and abdominal [fat] were more common in men with the [certain gene type], particularly among older participants," write University of Naples researcher Pasquale Strazzulo, MD, and colleagues in the Jan. 7 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Strazzulo's team looked at 959 men 25-75 years of age. Some were among a group of men first studied in 1975 and followed for 20 years.

It's known that an enzyme known as ACE plays a role in the way fat cells grow. So the researchers looked at differences in the ACE genes to see whether different forms of the gene influenced men's body types. They found that men who inherited one particular form of the gene from both parents were 82% more likely to be overweight and 76% more likely to have fat abs.

The form of the gene wasn't the only factor that increased risk of obesity. But men with this specific form of the ACE gene inherited from both parents had a greater tendency to accumulate body fat -- particularly abdominal fat -- with age.

Right now, the finding won't be of much help to men hoping to lose weight. But it's hoped that the findings will lead to a better understanding of how the body controls fat -- and to specific targets for new weight-loss drugs.