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DNA strandsThe influence of genetic variation in dopamine signalling on the sustainability of lifestyle interventions

One of the main goals of weight-loss interventions is to facilitate the participants to make sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes such as healthier eating and increased exercise participation. It is well-known that there is a high level of variability in the success rates of these interventions; some participants respond well while others seem resistant to these types of programme, which is particularly true when considering the long-term effectiveness of a programme beyond the supervised intervention. It is clear that elucidating the mechanisms underlying this variability will help in the design of more successful and sustainable weight loss programmes.

Most genetic studies in the field of obesity or weight loss have focussed on the genes involved in metabolism or appetite. In the present proposal we hypothesise that genes involved in dopamine signalling may also be relevant. Dopamine is a key molecule in the pathways that generate feelings of motivation, as well as having a role in the signalling of reward in response to exercise or the ingestion of food (Small et al., 2003). There are a number of ways in which variations in dopamine signalling as a result of differing genotypes may influence the success or otherwise of exercise intervention programmes.

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