Dietary preferences and patterns may be linked to genes

BOSTON -- The relative amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat that people choose to eat may be influenced by genetics, according to new research. Jose Ordovas, PhD, director of the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA), and colleagues found that the apolipoprotein A-II gene (APOA2) is associated with proportions of fat, carbohydrate, and protein in the diet, along with total calories and, therefore, with body-mass-index (BMI). These results, published in Clinical Chemistry, are the first to show that the APOA2 gene is linked to food preferences that shape dietary patterns, particularly preferences for dietary fat.

Ordovas, corresponding author, and colleagues analyzed genetic alleles, or variants, in the APOA2 promoter, a region that controls expression, or behavior, of the APOA2 gene. The alleles of the APOA2 promoter, T and C, form combinations; TT, TC, and CC, which indicate genotype. Of more than 1,000 study participants, approximately 85 percent had the common TT and TC genotypes, whereas 15 percent of participants had the CC genotype. Both men and women with the CC genotype had a statistically significant higher intake of fat than people with the TT and TC genotypes, says Ordovas. People with the CC genotype also consumed an average of 200 more calories per day and were nearly two times more likely to be obese, as compared to those with the two more common alleles.

In addition to preference for dietary fat, the researchers found evidence that the APOA2 gene influences preferences for protein and carbohydrate. People with the CC genotype consumed higher absolute amounts of protein and lower absolute amounts of carbohydrate than those with the TT and TC genotypes. People with the CC genotype also exhibited dietary patterns with a lower amount of carbohydrate relative to fat and protein than people with the TT and TC genotypes, says Ordovas, despi

Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University, Health Sciences

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