Breast-fed children have a lower risk of obesity, which may be linked to decreased expression of the hormone leptin. According to a study presented today at the 58th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology. The study reported that genetic changes known to suppress leptin levels are more common in breastfed babies than in infants, and that these differences may play a role in the development of obesity. Understanding the relationship between the genetic modification of leptin and obesity risk could advance strategies for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity and its complications in the future. better than prevention than cure.
Childhood obesity has become a worldwide epidemic that can lead to the development of serious and debilitating conditions later in life, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It is believed that around 40-70% of obesity cases have a genetic component, but none of the obesity-associated genes identified fully explain its heredity. Epigenetics is a process that affects the expression of our inherited genes and is a growing area of medical interest as it can be influenced by experience and the environment throughout life. Leptin is a hormone that is involved in regulating energy levels, and higher levels are linked to obesity. Previous research has shown that breastfed children have a lower risk of obesity, but how this relates to the epigenetic regulation of leptin has not been studied.
In this study, Dr. Omneya Magdy Omar and colleagues at the Children’s Hospital, Alexandria University Hospital, Egypt, epigenetic changes in the leptin gene in 50 6 month old babies, 25 of whom were breastfed. Epigenetic modifications that lower leptin levels were significantly more common in infants fed the formula, and one of these modifications was also associated with higher body weights in non-breastfed infants.
Dr. Omar explains, “Knowing that these genetic changes in infants fed the formula lower the levels of leptin associated with obesity, these results suggest that epigenetic mechanisms may play a role in obesity development. “
Although Dr. Omar warns, “More studies are needed to confirm these results. However, we only had 50 study participants who were limited to the region. Also, we didn’t measure leptin levels, or track what happens as the babies grow. “
The team plans to conduct larger multicenter studies examining the long-term role of genetic and environmental factors in the epigenetic regulation of leptin in order to put these data into context and investigate possible therapeutic interventions that contribute to the prevention and treatment of obesity Children could be developed.
Dr. Omar comments, “Although preliminary, we have identified a possible link between breastfeeding and a reduced risk of obesity, and added to the growing evidence that breastfeeding is recommended where possible.”