The Genetic Epidemiology of Obesity: A Case Study

  • Laura M. JohnsonEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 713)


Obesity (OMIM #601665) is a disease where excessive stores of body fat impact negatively on health. The first law of thermodynamics dictates that energy cannot be created or destroyed so if energy is taken into the body, but not transformed to ATP for metabolic work or dissipated as heat, it will be stored as fat. Therefore, the ultimate cause of obesity is a long-term positive energy imbalance [energy intake (EI) exceeds energy expenditure (EE)]. Despite this simple explanation, there is no single reason why EI may exceed EE meaning that the proximate causes of obesity are multi-factorial in origin involving a complex interplay of genetic, behavioural, and environmental influences on metabolism, diet, and activity.

Key words

Obesity BMI Fat mass Lean mass Appetite Energy intake Energy expenditure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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