Obesity is among the most threatening health burdens worldwide and its prevalence has markedly increased over the last decades. Obesity maybe considered a heritable trait. Identifications of rare cases of monogenic obesity unveiled that hypothalamic circuits and the brain-adipose axis play an important role in the regulation of energy homeostasis, appetite, hunger and satiety. For example, mutations in the leptin gene cause obesity through almost unsuppressed overeating. Common (multifactorial) obesity, most likely resulting from a concerted interplay of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors, is clearly linked to genetic predisposition by multiple risk variants, which, however only account for a minor part of the general BMI variability. Although GWAS opened new avenues in elucidating the complex genetics behind common obesity, understanding the biological mechanisms relative to the specific risk contributing to obesity remains poorly understood. Non-genetic factors such as eating behavior or physical activity strongly modulate the individual risk for developing obesity. These factors may interact with genetic predisposition for obesity through epigenetic mechanisms. Thus, here, we review the current knowledge about monogenic and common (multifactorial) obesity highlighting the important recent advances in our knowledge on how epigenetic regulation is involved in the etiology of obesity.
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