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Pediatrics. 2012 Jul;130(1):123-33. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2717. Epub 2012 Jun 4.

Genetics of pediatric obesity.

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FACN, Scientific Directorate, Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital, Istituto Di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Rome, Italy.


Onset of obesity has been anticipated at earlier ages, and prevalence has dramatically increased worldwide over the past decades. Epidemic obesity is mainly attributable to modern lifestyle, but family studies prove the significant role of genes in the individual's predisposition to obesity. Advances in genotyping technologies have raised great hope and expectations that genetic testing will pave the way to personalized medicine and that complex traits such as obesity will be prevented even before birth. In the presence of the pressing offer of direct-to-consumer genetic testing services from private companies to estimate the individual's risk for complex phenotypes including obesity, the present review offers pediatricians an update of the state of the art on genomics obesity in childhood. Discrepancies with respect to genomics of adult obesity are discussed. After an appraisal of findings from genome-wide association studies in pediatric populations, the rare variant-common disease hypothesis, the theoretical soil for next-generation sequencing techniques, is discussed as opposite to the common disease-common variant hypothesis. Next-generation sequencing techniques are expected to fill the gap of "missing heritability" of obesity, identifying rare variants associated with the trait and clarifying the role of epigenetics in its heritability. Pediatric obesity emerges as a complex phenotype, modulated by unique gene-environment interactions that occur in periods of life and are "permissive" for the programming of adult obesity. With the advent of next-generation sequencing techniques and advances in the field of exposomics, sensitive and specific tools to predict the obesity risk as early as possible are the challenge for the next decade.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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