Researchers from Ruijin Hospital have made important discoveries about a gene related to obesity, hospital officials said yesterday. The discoveries can help provide a new route for obesity prevention and treatment, they said. The researchers found that the LGR4 gene can have a big influence in the occurrence of obesity. People with mutated LGR4 genes can have over two times the risk of being obese. They also found that rats that had the LGR4 gene deactivated had better physical data and lower weights even when fed a fattier diet. In 2004, doctors from Ruijin started to recruit obese patients below 30 years of age for genetic studies. The team has collected over 1,000 obese people's DNA information and clinical records. European scientists also have made related findings showing that European offspring whose LGR4 genes are less active weigh less than ordinary people. Obesity is a disease that carries the risk of complications such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even sudden death. Experts said obesity has close ties to heredity, which means obese usually have close relatives with the same problem.