Genome-wide association study of dietary intake in the UK biobank study and its associations with schizophrenia and other traits

Transl Psychiatry. 2020 Feb 3;10(1):51. doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-0688-y.


Motivated by observational studies that report associations between schizophrenia and traits, such as poor diet, increased body mass index and metabolic disease, we investigated the genetic contribution to dietary intake in a sample of 335,576 individuals from the UK Biobank study. A principal component analysis applied to diet question item responses generated two components: Diet Component 1 (DC1) represented a meat-related diet and Diet Component 2 (DC2) a fish and plant-related diet. Genome-wide association analysis identified 29 independent single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with DC1 and 63 SNPs with DC2. Estimated from over 35,000 3rd-degree relative pairs that are unlikely to share close family environments, heritabilities for both DC1 and DC2 were 0.16 (standard error (s.e.) = 0.05). SNP-based heritability was 0.06 (s.e. = 0.003) for DC1 and 0.08 (s.e = 0.004) for DC2. We estimated significant genetic correlations between both DCs and schizophrenia, and several other traits. Mendelian randomisation analyses indicated a negative uni-directional relationship between liability to schizophrenia and tendency towards selecting a meat-based diet (which could be direct or via unidentified correlated variables), but a bi-directional relationship between liability to schizophrenia and tendency towards selecting a fish and plant-based diet consistent with genetic pleiotropy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks
  • Eating
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Schizophrenia* / genetics
  • United Kingdom