Genetic link to differences in appetite
8 October 2008
A variant of the FTO gene, which has been shown to be associated with increased body weight, has now been associated with increased appetite.
A variant of the FTO gene, which has been shown to be associated with increased body weight, has now been associated with increased appetite. New research from the ALSPAC (Children of the 90s) project indicates that children with this FTO gene variant consume more calories, particularly from fatty foods.
3,600 children from the ALSPAC study filled in detailed, 3-day diet diaries when they were aged 10-11. Analysis of these diaries showed a higher intake of fat and energy in those children with the FTO variant, compared with those who did not carry the variant.
The daily difference was small, but it may be important over the course of a lifetime.
Research reported in April 2007 linked variants of the FTO gene with increased fat mass. At that point it was not clear why this was the case, but this new research suggests that there is a genetic element to increased appetite.
Paper published online today:
Timpson NJ, Emmett PM, Frayling TM, Rogers I et al. The FTO- or obesity-associated locus and dietary intake in children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008;88:971--8
- ALSPAC The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (also known as Children of the 90s) is a unique ongoing research project based in the University of Bristol. It enrolled 14,000 mothers during pregnancy in 1991-2 and has followed most of the children and parents in minute detail ever since.
- The ALSPAC study could not have been undertaken without the continuing financial support of the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of Bristol among many others.