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Obes Facts. 2012;5(3):408-19. doi: 10.1159/000340057. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) in eating disorders: evidence for association of the rs9939609 obesity risk allele with bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.



The common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs9939609 in the fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is associated with obesity. As genetic variants associated with weight regulation might also be implicated in the etiology of eating disorders, we evaluated whether SNP rs9939609 is associated with bulimia nervosa (BN) and anorexia nervosa (AN).


Association of rs9939609 with BN and AN was assessed in 689 patients with AN, 477 patients with BN, 984 healthy non-population-based controls, and 3,951 population-based controls (KORA-S4). Based on the familial and premorbid occurrence of obesity in patients with BN, we hypothesized an association of the obesity risk A-allele with BN.


In accordance with our hypothesis, we observed evidence for association of the rs9939609 A-allele with BN when compared to the non-population-based controls (unadjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.142, one-sided 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.001-∞; one-sided p = 0.049) and a trend in the population-based controls (OR = 1.124, one-sided 95% CI 0.932-∞; one-sided p = 0.056). Interestingly, compared to both control groups, we further detected a nominal association of the rs9939609 A-allele to AN (OR = 1.181, 95% CI 1.027-1.359, two-sided p = 0.020 or OR = 1.673, 95% CI 1.101-2.541, two-sided p = 0.015,).


Our data suggest that the obesity-predisposing FTO allele might be relevant in both AN and BN.

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