01 Sep '11, 1am

Scientists discover genetic cause of extreme thinness

PARIS (AFP) - Scientists have discovered a genetic cause of extreme thinness that can lead to a syndrome in children called 'failure to thrive', according to a new study. The research, to be published on Thursday in Nature, shows that people with surplus copies of certain genes are much more likely to be very skinny. In one in 2,000 people part of chromosome 16 is duplicated, making men 23 times and women five times more likely to be seriously underweight, they found. Normally, an individual inherits a duplicate of every chromosome from each parent, giving us two of each gene. But sometimes sections of a chromosome are copied or deleted, resulting in too many or too few segments of genetic coding.

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