Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jun;15(6):1484-95.

Heritability of hyperphagic eating behavior and appetite-related hormones among Hispanic children.

Author information

  • 1U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service Children's Nutrition Research Center, 1100 Bates Street, Suite 4004, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



Eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) may be a genetically influenced phenotype of overweight children, but evidence is limited. This research evaluated the heritability (h(2)) of EAH and its association with overweight among Hispanic children 5 to 18 years old. Genetic and environmental associations of EAH with overweight, fat mass, and key hormonal regulators of food intake were also evaluated.


A family design was used to study 801 children from 300 Hispanic families. Weighed food intakes were used to measure EAH after an ad libitum dinner providing 50% of estimated energy needs. Fasting ghrelin, amylin, insulin, and leptin were measured by immunoassays. Measured heights, weights, and fat mass (using DXA) were obtained. Total energy expenditure (TEE) was measured by room respiration calorimetry.


On average, children consumed 41% of TEE at the dinner meal, followed by an additional 19% of TEE in the absence of hunger. Overweight children consumed 6.5% more energy at dinner (p < 0.001) and 14% more energy in the absence of hunger (p < 0.001) than non-overweight children. Significant heritabilities were seen for EAH (h(2) = 0.51) and dinner intake (h(2) = 0.52) and for fasting levels of ghrelin (h(2) = 0.67), amylin (h(2) = 0.37), insulin (h(2) = 0.37), and leptin (h(2) = 0.34). Genetic correlations were seen between eating behavior and fasting hormones, suggesting common underlying genes affecting their expression.


This research provides new evidence that overweight Hispanic children exhibit elevated levels of hyperphagic eating behaviors that are influenced by genetic endowment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk