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Mouse

Prkar2a Gene for Food and Exercise

National Institutes of Health researchers recently discovered Prkar2a, a gene in mice that controls the craving for sugary and fatty foods and the urge to exercise. The gene is highly expressed in the habenula, a tiny brain region involved in responses to pain, stress and reward. Prkar2a-negative mice ate less high-fat food and sugar solution than their counterparts with the active gene. Rodents without the functioning gene also exercised for fewer minutes during a run test. Next up is determining what role this gene may play in human food and exercise choices and, in turn, obesity.

See also: Binge Eating: There’s a Gene for That

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