The Genetics Behind Eating!!!

Nov 01, 2019


To the vast majority of us, eating food and the very enjoyment we get goes beyond survival. A few of us enthusiastically wait to have a quick bite of our favorite cuisine in times of happiness and sorrow. It is not an exaggeration to say, the quest for finding advanced knowledge on good foods in the most recent times has drastically improved by research and healthcare professionals and nutritionists. What if I say our DNA and genetic material influences our dietary choices? What if I say there’s a strong connection between the foods we eat to our molecular makeup? This should, by now, make you question yourself. How much is too much? It is with this thought that we have put forth key facts about the foods we eat and the genes that control them.

The Genetics Behind Eating!!!
  • The MC4R – Melanocortin receptor gene, produced in the brain has an effect on food-energy signalling, waist-hip ratio and BMI. Genetic variation in MC4R can cause excessive hunger and overeating. 
  • Regular exercise can increase the levels of BDNF, an important protein for memory and brain performance. Yes, exercising makes you smarter! Your BDNF gene regulates cognition, memory and other key skills. 
  • Dentate gyrus (DG) and CA3 of the hippocampus are the regions in the brain involved in spatial memory, mood and regulation of emotionality. Injection of BDNF gene directly into these regions will lead to antidepressant-like effects and enhances the antidepressant-like activity of paroxetine in rodents. 
  • An antidepressant-like behavioural phenotype with increased anxiety-like behaviour was found in mice overexpressing BDNF in excitatory neurons of the forebrain (HC, cortex, and amygdala). 
  • A research study conducted by Marta Ribases et al revealed that BDNF gene plays a role in the predisposition to anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN) and age of onset of weight loss. The study also revealed that the Met66 BDNF variant has a strong association with the pathophysiology of eating disorders (ED).
  • The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) present near MC4R gene has a relation with increased total energy intake and dietary fat intake. Furthermore, the SNP is related to long-term gain in weight and high risk of diabetes in women.
  • Individuals with MC4R variant will have a tendency to eat at regular intervals and are advised to control the intake of carbohydrates and fats. 
  • Activation of MC4R gene may lead to obesity due to hyperphagia (extreme unsatisfied drive to consume food). It happens due to decreased level and change in the properties of α-MSH-reactive IgG (Immunoglobulin Gamma) in obese patients.
  • Through the mapping and validation of genes, scientists identified cytoplasmic FMR1-interacting protein 2 (CYFIP2) as an important genetic risk factor for binge eating. In addition to this, they have also noticed that reduced myelination could be a neuropathological consequence of binge eating. 
  • MC4R gene plays a vital role in regulating the weight of an individual. Other variants in the MC4R gene which increase the activity of the brain receptor has the capacity to protect individuals from becoming obese and overweight.

How Can Mapmygenome Help you: 

At Mapmygenome, we have carved out a niche for personalizing health, wellness, nutrition, fitness and medicine. We as pioneers of personal genomics in India believe that food has the power to transform our lives.

With our screening test MyNutriGene, you can choose the ideal diet profile best suited to your biology. MyNutriGene will also give you an insight into your immunity, genetic predisposition to specific health conditions, and choose optimal health plans to pre-empt most of these risks. Our test will also help you learn about your metabolism, fat/carbohydrate response, food intolerance, and eating behaviour.

The insights gleaned from the analysis of your genome, coupled with a comprehensive genetic counselling session with our certified experts will aid in the development of a highly personalized and effective plan of action built keeping your genetic uniqueness/individuality at the centre. Alternatively, you can visit our website or write to us at or call us at 1800 102 4595. 


  1. Lindholm, Jesse S O, and Eero Castrén. “Mice with altered BDNF signaling as models for mood disorders and antidepressant effects.” Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience vol. 8 143. 30 Apr. 2014, doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00143.
  2. Lucas, Nicolas, et al. “Immunoglobulin G modulation of the melanocortin 4 receptor signaling in obesity and eating disorders.” Translational psychiatry 9.1 (2019): 87.
  3. Berrettini, Wade. “The genetics of eating disorders.” Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)) vol. 1,3 (2004): 18-25.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not exhaustive by any means. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, procedure, or treatment, whether it is a prescription medication, over-the-counter drug, vitamin, supplement, or herbal alternative.