The FTO gene harbors variation with the strongest effect on adiposity and obesity risk. Previous data support a role for FTO variation in influencing food intake. We conducted a combined analysis of 16,094 boys and girls aged 1-18 years from 14 studies to examine the following: 1) the association between the FTO rs9939609 variant (or a proxy) and total energy and macronutrient intake; and 2) the interaction between the FTO variant and dietary intake, and the effect on BMI. We found that the BMI-increasing allele (minor allele) of the FTO variant was associated with increased total energy intake (effect per allele = 14.3 kcal/day [95% CI 5.9, 22.7 kcal/day], P = 6.5 × 10(-4)), but not with protein, carbohydrate, or fat intake. We also found that protein intake modified the association between the FTO variant and BMI (interactive effect per allele = 0.08 SD [0.03, 0.12 SD], P for interaction = 7.2 × 10(-4)): the association between FTO genotype and BMI was much stronger in individuals with high protein intake (effect per allele = 0.10 SD [0.07, 0.13 SD], P = 8.2 × 10(-10)) than in those with low intake (effect per allele = 0.04 SD [0.01, 0.07 SD], P = 0.02). Our results suggest that the FTO variant that confers a predisposition to higher BMI is associated with higher total energy intake, and that lower dietary protein intake attenuates the association between FTO genotype and adiposity in children and adolescents.
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