Obesity genetics: insights from the Pakistani population
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The Pakistani population is extensively diverse, indicating a genetic admixture of European and Central/West Asian migrants with indigenous South Asian gene pools. Pakistanis are organized in different ethnicities/castes based on cultural, linguistic and geographical origin. While Pakistan is facing a rapid nutritional transition, the rising prevalence of obesity is driving a growing burden of health complications and mortality. This represents a unique opportunity for the research community to study the interplay between obesogenic environmental changes and obesity predisposing genes in the time frame of one generation. This review recapitulates the ancestral origins of Pakistani population, the societal determinants of the rise in obesity and its governmental management. We describe the contribution of syndromic, monogenic non-syndromic and polygenic obesity genes identified in the Pakistani population. We then discuss the utility of gene identification approaches based on large consanguineous families and original gene × environment interaction study designs in discovering new obesity genes and causal pathways. Elucidation of the genetic basis of obesity in the Pakistani population may result in improved methods of obesity prevention and treatment globally.
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