Socio-Economic Factors Influence Genetic Tendency Toward Obesity Interview with:

Professor Timothy Frayling PhD Professor of Human Genetics University of Exeter Medical School Exeter, UK

Prof. Timothy Frayling

Professor Timothy Frayling PhD
Professor of Human Genetics
University of Exeter Medical School
Exeter, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know that genes and environmental factors influence our Body mass index. We know less about if and how they interact.

We wanted to answer the question of whether or not aspects of the environment and our lifestyles accentuate any genetic predisposition to obesity. The question is important as it may highlight aspects of the environment that cause some people to be particularly susceptible to gaining weight. Previous, separate, studies have suggested that specific aspects of the environment are to blame. These included sugary drinks, fried food and TV watching. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We concluded that there is unlikely to be one specific aspect of the environment that accentuates the genetic risk of obesity. Instead a general measure of the obesogenic environment, socio-economic position (a measure of relative wealth) best captured the environmental factors that interact with genetic risk of obesity. These findings contrast with those from most previous studies What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We need to take great care in interpreting studies that try and measure genes and environment and test them together. Future studies should measure as many aspects of the environment as possible. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The study was only made possible by the participants and scientists involved in the groundbreaking UK Biobank – a study of 500,000 people that is available to any scientist to access. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Abstract presented at the 2016 EASD meeting

Gene-obesogenic environment interactions in the UK Biobank study

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Last Updated on September 16, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD