It may seem like lazy people are looking for excuses, but according to new research a gene mutation may be to blame for laziness. Previous twin and family studies have suggested a link between genetics and the likelihood of being overweight and inactive, but few follow up studies have been carried out, until now.
Chinese and Scottish Universities have teamed up to investigate how a mutation of the SLC35D3 gene causes metabolic syndrome (associated with obesity). The researchers identified a link between the SLC35D3 gene and laziness during human trials. Mice (mice are often used because their genetics are similar to ours) were then bred with this faulty gene to see how it affected their brain chemistry.
The mutation seemed to disrupt the neurotransmitter dopamine which produces a feeling of pleasure. The mice displayed characteristics of obese humans; excess fat, inactivity, high cholesterol, high percentage of fat in their blood and poor blood glucose control.
The most astonishing discovery was that the effect of the ‘lazy’ gene can be reversed. The dopamine disruption can be fixed with a drug designed to improve dopamine release. After receiving the drug the mice lost weight and became far more active. However, it is important to highlight the fact that this study focuses on mice not humans. It is unclear how common the SLC35D3 gene variant is in humans and how effective a drug would be.
This study feeds into the nature nurture debate; but whether genetics play a major role in laziness remains to be seen. For now try being active at some point in the day, to avoid being labelled a couch potato.