12 January - 20 June 2016

Fried food interacts with genes to influence body weight

26 Mar 14

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, American researchers look at how the link between consumption of fried foods, obesity and body mass index (BMI) varies based on a genetic risk score. It was found that for individuals with a particular genetic predisposition, the effect of eating fried food four times a week had twice the effect on BMI that similar consumption induced in those with the lowest genetic risk.

The participants filled in food frequency questionnaires that gathered information about how often they consumed fried food both at and away from home, with a choice of responses ranging from never to daily. From this data, consumption frequency was categorised into less than once weekly, one to three times weekly or four or more times weekly. In order to assess the participants' genetic risk, the researchers gave each a weighted score based on 32 genetic variants that have been associated with BMI, on a scale running from 0 to 64.

It was found that the association between total fried food consumption and BMI was stronger in participants with higher genetic risk scores. Two large cohorts were studied, 9623 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 6379 men from the Health Professionals follow-up study. In the first, the difference in BMI between frequent and non-frequent consumers of fried food was 1.0 for those in the highest third of genetic risk, and 0.5 in the lowest. In the second cohort, the difference was 0.7 for those in the highest third and 0.4 for the lowest.

In the first cohort, therefore, those with a higher genetic risk experienced double the effect on BMI of frequently eating fried food that those at low genetic risk did. In the second, the participants with higher genetic risk experienced 1.75 times the effect. However, the authors noted that the genetic risk score explained only 1.5-1.8% of the variation in BMI in their study. [ScienceDaily]

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