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Eating behaviour traits partly mediate genetic susceptibility to obesity

27 Sep 2018
One in five children worldwide are either obese or overweight.

It appears that undesirable eating behaviour (EB) traits play a part in mediating genetic susceptibility to obesity, according to a recent study, suggesting that EB traits can be targeted in obesity treatment and prevention.

This cross-sectional study included adult individuals (n=768) who participated in the Quebec Family Study. The authors calculated the genetic risk score (GRS) of obesity based on the 97 genetic variants recently identified in a genome-wide association studies (GWAS) meta-analysis of body mass index (BMI).

The Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire was used to assess EB traits and their subscales. Regression analyses with age and sex as covariates were conducted to examine the associations between GRS, EB traits, BMI and waist circumference (WC), and whether the association between GRS and obesity was mediated by EB traits, representing the indirect effect of GRS on obesity.

A positive association was found between GRS of obesity and BMI (β, 0.19±0.04; p<0.0001) and WC (β, 0.46±0.10; p<0.0001). Regression analyses also showed that disinhibition (βindirect, 0.09±0.03; p=0.0007) and susceptibility to hunger (βindirect, 0.04±0.02; p=0.02) partly mediated the association between GRS of obesity and BMI.

Habitual (βindirect, 0.08±0.03; p=0.002) and situational susceptibility (βindirect, 0.05±0.02; p=0.003) to disinhibition, as well as internal and external locus of hunger (βindirect, 0.03±0.02; p=0.03 for both), also mediated the association between GRS of obesity and BMI. The same trends were seen with WC.

“GWASs have identified several genes associated with obesity. The mechanisms through which these genes affect body weight are not fully characterized. Recent studies suggest that EB traits could be involved, but only a few EB traits were investigated,” the authors said.

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