Cognitive restraint over eating may lower genetic susceptibility to obesity
“Appetitive” eating behaviour traits, such as uncontrolled and emotional eating, tend to mediate genetic susceptibility to obesity, which is also modified by cognitive restraint, according to a recent study. In addition, elevated levels of cognitive control over eating tend to reduce genetic susceptibility to obesity.
Researchers calculated the genetic risk scores for body mass index (BMI-GRSs) for 3,515 and 2,154 in the Fenland and EDEN (Etude des déterminants pré et postnatals de la santé et du développement de l'enfant) population-based cohort studies, respectively.
A validated questionnaire was used to measure the following eating behaviours: emotional eating, uncontrolled eating and cognitive restraint. The Sobel test was utilized to evaluate the mediating effect of each eating behaviour on the association between the BMI-GRS and measured BMI. Researchers also tested for interactions between each eating behaviour and the BMI-GRS on BMI.
Both emotional (EDEN: p-Sobel=0.01; Fenland: p-Sobel=0.02) and uncontrolled eating (EDEN: p-Sobel=0.04; Fenland: p-Sobel=0.0006) mediated the association between BMI and BMI-GRS in both sexes combined. This association was not mediated by cognitive restraint (p-Sobel>0.10), except in EDEN women (p-Sobel=0.0009).
In addition, cognitive restraint modified the association between BMI and BMI-GRS among EDEN men (p=0.0001 for interaction; Fenland: p=0.04 for interaction) and Fenland women (p=0.0004 for interaction). The lowest tertile of cognitive restraint had the strongest association between BMI and BMI-GRS, while the highest tertile had the weakest.
“Future research into interventions designed to support restraint may help to protect genetically susceptible individuals from weight gain,” researchers said.