In January we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the nationwide launch of the Genetics of Obesity Study (GOOS). In 1997, with colleagues in Cambridge, we showed that mutations in the genes for leptin and prohormone convertase 1 could cause obesity in children. This work paved the way for the GOOS study where our aim was to see if we could find genes which when faulty, might cause severe weight problems in other children. At the time, this was a really unusual, even some might say, radical idea. Very few people were looking into the causes of weight problems; most people were content to simply blame a poor diet and lack of exercise as the key factors even in very young children who were developing obesity.
With the help of many doctors in the UK and indeed world-wide, we set about recruiting a large number of people into GOOS. We didn’t know how many children might be affected by severe weight problems but it seemed to us that trying to find new genes could be important. We started with one desk and one chair (shared by Dr Farooqi and Julia!) and wrote a lot of letters asking people to work with us. We had a lot of help from many willing health care professionals, patients and their families who supported our research and helped to make it a success.
Fast forward 20 years, and GOOS now represents the largest such study in the world. Research on the GOOS cohort has led to many important discoveries and to the recognition that faulty genes CAN lead to obesity which is now reflected in clinical guidelines for the assessment of childhood obesity (add link). We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have contributed in any way to making the GOOS study what it is today. We look forward to a new era of research and to continuing to push forward the boundaries of science to help people with weight problems.