Research Article: Genetic Markers of Adult Obesity Risk Are Associated with Greater Early Infancy Weight Gain and Growth

Date Published: May 25, 2010

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Cathy E. Elks, Ruth J. F. Loos, Stephen J. Sharp, Claudia Langenberg, Susan M. Ring, Nicholas J. Timpson, Andrew R. Ness, George Davey Smith, David B. Dunger, Nicholas J. Wareham, Ken K. Ong, David Ludwig

Abstract: Ken Ong and colleagues genotyped children from the ALSPAC birth cohort and showed an association between greater early infancy gains in weight and length and genetic markers for adult obesity risk.

Partial Text: The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity even in young preschool children [1] highlights the need to understand the very early determinants and potential targets for prevention of obesity. It has been proposed that there are certain critical periods in childhood for the development of obesity, including gestation and early infancy, the period of adiposity rebound between ages 5 and 7 years, and adolescence [2]. However, the relevance of overweight and obesity in infants and very young children to adult obesity and its comorbidities is unclear [3]. Common genetic variation associated with adult obesity may provide an opportunity to identify the timing of childhood weight changes that are associated with later obesity risk.

This study shows that recently established genetic variants for adult BMI have a combined association with childhood weight gain that is apparent even within the first weeks from birth. The combined association between these variants and childhood BMI, of around 0.5 SDS between the lowest and highest allele risk score groups, was similar in size to that seen with adult BMI (1.5 kg/m2) in terms of proportion of a standard deviation [6]. Therefore, while these risk variants may well influence rate of weight gain in adults [4], we postulate that that their relative influence on the rate of weight gain may be greater during childhood.



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