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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;90(2):425-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27652. Epub 2009 Jun 24.

Physical activity attenuates the body mass index-increasing influence of genetic variation in the FTO gene.

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  • 1MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, United Kingdom.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Intronic variation in the FTO (fat mass and obesity-associated) gene has been unequivocally associated with increased body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)) and the risk of obesity in populations of different ethnicity.

OBJECTIVE:

We examined whether this robust genetic predisposition to obesity can be attenuated by being more physically active.

DESIGN:

The FTO variant rs1121980 was genotyped in 20,374 participants (39-79 y of age) from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk Study, an ethnically homogeneous population-based cohort. Physical activity (PA) was assessed with a validated self-reported questionnaire. The interaction between rs1121980 and PA on BMI and waist circumference (WC) was examined by including the interaction term in mixed-effect models.

RESULTS:

We confirmed that the risk (T) allele of rs1121980 was significantly associated with BMI (0.31-unit increase per allele; P < 0.001) and WC (0.77-cm increase per allele; P < 0.001). The PA level attenuated the effect of rs1121980 on BMI and WC; ie, whereas in active individuals the risk allele increased BMI by 0.25 per allele, the increase in BMI was significantly (P for interaction = 0.004) more pronounced (76%) in inactive individuals (0.44 per risk allele). We observed similar effects for WC (P for interaction = 0.02): the risk allele increased WC by 1.04 cm per allele in inactive individuals but by only 0.64 cm in active individuals.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results showed that PA attenuates the effect of the FTO rs1121980 genotype on BMI and WC. This observation has important public health implications because we showed that a genetic susceptibility to obesity induced by FTO variation can be overcome, at least in part, by adopting a physically active lifestyle.

PMID:
19553294
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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