So now we know why Parekura and Gerry are so jolly – it’s something to do with their genes

But on some days it’s hard to be jolly.

Dunno if David Cunliffe is feeling somewhat down, today.

But notwithstanding whatever went on at his caucus meeting yesterday, he is more likely to get depressed than – let’s say – Parekura Horomia.

Or Alf’s good mate, Gerry Brownlee.

This can be asserted with great confidence because – as you will learn here – fat people are apt to be happier than their skinny colleagues.

Father Christmas, of course, serves as a splendid example.

And here’s why…

People with particular variants of a gene known as FTO, the largest genetic factor behind obesity, are eight per cent less likely to suffer from depression, a new study found.

The findings, which are the first to link the gene with protection against depression, could help explain why some people are happier than others.

They question the common assumption that obesity and depression are mutually reinforcing – that obese people are more prone to become depressed because of their appearance, and depressed people are more likely to gain weight because of a less active lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits.

The researchers are from McMaster University in Canada.

They had been investigating whether there was a link between obesity and depression.

When they investigated the genetic and psychiatric status of patients enrolled in the EpiDREAM study, led by the Population Health Research Institute, they found the opposite was true.

The scientists examined data on 17,200 DNA samples donated by volunteers from 21 different countries.

The Telegraph has chatted with a Dr David Meyre, senior author of the study.

He said:

“The difference of eight per cent is modest and it won’t make a big difference in the day-to-day care of patients, but we have discovered a novel molecular basis for depression.”

Previous research on twins and other siblings had suggested depression may be up to 40 per cent hereditary.

But no studies have been able to firmly link particular genes to the condition.

In this latest study, the researchers found that the variant in the FTO gene, which has already been shown to raise the risk of obesity, was also linked to a lower depression risk.

The same link was later identified in three other large international studies.

In its report on the research, the Daily Mail (see here) incorporated a recent interview with Lisa Riley, from a TV show called Strictly Come Dancing.

Mrs Grumble is a big fan.

Anyway, Lisa said she was more than comfortable with her size.

She said she is ‘a big, really happy girl who is lucky enough to be confident in her own skin’, and added: ‘Many would give their left arm to be thinner. Not me’

She added: ‘I genuinely love being different and it drives me mad that people don’t believe I’m happy as I am.

‘Why do I want to look like everyone else? But I know people think: “She says that, but she doesn’t mean it, she’s very sad really”.’

Gerry has a similar outlook.

Mind you, his outlook doesn’t extend to his feet, which he probably hasn’t seen for some time.

At least, not when he is standing up.

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