|MadSci Network: Genetics|
The simple answer is that no research is being carried out to change the obesity genes in people to "prevent" being born fat or having obese children. This is for a variety of reasons. Gene therapy is still in early stages as a treatment and can only modify a few cells. So-called "obesity" genes have been found, in which mutations of the genes have led to overweight mice. Similar genes have been found in humans, but that does not necessarily mean they have the same effect! Even assuming they did, scientists as yet have no idea what cells would have to be modified to block obesity. Modifications to prevent giving birth to obese children requires gene therapy to modify the cells that give rise to eggs in female ovaries or sperm in the male testes. This type of modification is both morally and ethically wrong - it would lead towards genetically modified children for eye color, hair color, intelligence, etc....(However, I fully expect that in some point in the future even this will be come a reality) Not that there isn't hope. Identification of the mutations in a gene that can result in obesity can lead to intense study of the proteins that are made by these genes. Using the precision tools that are available, scientists can dissect what these proteins do and screen compounds that modify their function. Potentially, new drug therapies could be created which would help prevent a person from becoming obese or with proper exercise & diet help an already obese person lose the weight. Although I have not heard of any candidate drugs I am almost certain that such products are probably already undergoing testing and will be available sometime in the next 5 to 10 years. You won't be able to prevent someone from having a child with genes that could lead to obesity, but you will (in the near future) be able to tell a person that their child has the genes and (when available) prescribe drugs that could prevent the child from ever being obese.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Genetics.