Exercise Mitigates Effect of Obesity Gene in Adolescents

Gene effects on BMI, waist size, and body fat reduced in those who exercise for an hour daily
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents with the minor A allele of the fat mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) rs9939609 polymorphism are at high risk of obesity, but that risk can be overcome by an hour or more of daily exercise, according to a study in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Jonatan R. Ruiz, Ph.D., of Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge, Sweden, and colleagues studied a cohort of 752 adolescents in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence Cross-Sectional Study.

Overall, the researchers found that the presence of the minor A allele of the FTO polymorphism was associated with higher body mass index and body fat percentage, as well as greater waist circumference. However, the polymorphism's effect was reduced among adolescents who performed at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, in compliance with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendations, compared to those who did not (+0.17 versus +0.65 per risk allele for body mass index, +0.40 versus +1.70 percent per risk allele for body fat percentage, and +0.60 versus +1.15 cm per risk allele for waist circumference).

"These findings have important public health implications and indicate that meeting the physical activity recommendations may offset the genetic predispositions to obesity associated with the FTO polymorphism in adolescents," the authors write.

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