Gene Found in Polar Bears Might Solve Obesity

July 28, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. collaboration /kəˌlæb əˈreɪ ʃən/ (n.) – the act of working together for a specific purpose
Example: The collaboration of researchers from different countries helped speed up the study.

2. inquisitive /ɪnˈkwɪz ɪ tɪv/ (adj.) – being curious and having questions
ExampleInquisitive people often examine facts.

3. composition /ˌkɒmpəˈzɪʃən / (n.) – the parts or components of a whole
Example: Different species have different genetic composition.

4. cope /koʊp/ (v.) – to experience and solve a problematic situation
Example: Bears can cope with harsh weather conditions even if their main food sources are unavailable.

5. evolve /ɪˈvɒlv/ (v.) – to undergo changes and development after many years
Example: Polar bears have evolved into bigger and stronger animals.


Read the text below.
A collaboration between international scientists has led to a new discovery – polar bear genes may solve the problem of obesity.

Researchers have long been inquisitive about how polar bears live on a diet rich in cholesterol without having heart diseases. Polar bears usually eat seals and dead whales, which both contain lots of fat. Because of this, half of the bears’ weight is composed of stored fat.

A group of scientists composed of Danish, Chinese, and Americans studied how polar bears manage to stay healthy despite having a fatty diet. Eline [EH-leen] Lorenzen from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) said that the research team specifically wanted to know how the bears manage to survive even with an overweight body.

The researchers analyzed data on the genetic [juh-NET-ik] composition of 79 polar bears from Greenland and 10 brown bears from different countries.

Results showed that polar bears evolved from brown bears about 500,000 years ago. As years passed, the fur of polar bears became white and their body functions also developed.

Scientists noted that a gene [jin] known as APOB is the reason why polar bears are not susceptible to heart diseases. APOB helps move cholesterol and fatty acids from the bloodstream, preventing arteries from clogging.

Lead researcher Rasmus Nielsen [rahs-muhs NEEL-suhn], also from UC Berkeley, hopes that the findings can help future studies develop a way for humans to cope with obesity like polar bears do.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that these findings may help solve obesity in the future? Why or why not?
·         How else can obesity be avoided?

Discussion B

·         Do you monitor the fat content in the food you eat? Please explain.
·         Why is being overweight considered dangerous for the body?

July 28, 2014