The new report, published in The FASEB Journal, identifies five epigenetic biomarkers in Spanish adolescents that were associated with a better weight loss at the beginning of a weight loss program.
Led by Amelia Martí from the University of Navarra, Spain, the research team suggested that not only could their findings could ultimately help predict an individual's response to weight loss intervention, but may offer new targets for enhancing weight management.
"We describe five putative epigenetic biomarkers that could help to predict the response to a weight loss intervention in obese adolescents," said Martí, who added that the methods could lead to better management of weight and obesity through diet and lifestye.
"If you've ever wondered why some people seem to do so well on a diet and exercise plan and other fail so miserably, then now we know that the way that genes express themselves (via epigenetics) plays an important role," explained Dr Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.
"This report moves us a step closer when we will be able to prescribe a weight loss program tailored to more than just the lifestyle and conditioning level of the patient, but also to his or her particular genetic and epigenetic profile."
In order to find these biomarkers, Martí and her colleagues initially performed a global methylation assay in 24 adolescents who had the best and worst response to the EVASYON weight loss program - before expanding the sample to include 83 more adolescents.
The team measured an epigenetic marker, DNA methylation levels, in obese adolescents from a blood sample at baseline and again at the end of the 10-week program.
Participants were then divided into two groups (high and low responders) according to the weight loss achieved.
Analysis revealed that the baseline DNA methylation levels of five epigenetic markers were associated with better weight loss response in response to the EVASYON program.