The newly study - led by professor Haja Kadarmideen, a professor and research group leader from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at University of Copenhagen - is the first in the world looking at pig to human comparative genetic mapping to reveal key genes on the human genome that are known to be involved in obesity.
Kadarmideen realized it would be impossible to monitor the eating behaviour of 1,200 humans every single hour of every day, so he turned to Danish pigs to find out why do humans pig out.
Over a period of four years, nearly 1,200 pigs were given unlimited access to food. With the help of the Pig Research Centre from the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, each day the pigs were monitored for how often they would eat, how much time they spent visiting the feeder, how much they had eaten and what kind of food they were eating, while constantly mapping their overall weight gain.
Each of the 1,200 pig’s DNA was assessed using a genomic chip technology that simultaneously created a genetic profile at 60,000 locations across the entire DNA of each pig.
Kadarmideen and his team discovered big differences in the variability of the pigs eating habits.
The research showed that for some (pigs with certain genetic variants) overeating was normal behaviour.
That for a particular group of pigs there was clear evidence they were genetically programmed to eat more food than others.