'Beer gut' gene?

Rats with beer bellies may hold key in understanding middle-age bulge

Nov 1, 2000 - British scientists have bred rats with beer bellies and expect the rats may reveal whey middle-aged men accumulate fat around the middle.


"We know that fat in the abdomen is associated with a range of risks including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension but we don't yet know why, and these rats may help us find out," said Professor Iain Robinson of London's National Institute for Medical Research.

His team of researchers dubbed the rats SLOBs -- Severe Late On-set oBesity -- and they are the first test animal with true middle-aged spread. This "beer gut" typically hits men in their forties and women after the menopause. "We have stumbled on the fact that there is a genetic component to it, but, more importantly, it may give us a clue to why the fat accumulates in that place, and why there is a difference between males and females," Robinson said.

Robinson told the 11th International Congress of Endocrinology that his research team had not yet proved that there was a "beer gut gene," but it was likely that it would be demonstrated to be one of several genes influencing obesity.

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