on obese Bristolians

nice feature on the Avon Longitudinal Study in today's Nature.

In 2007, however, data from ALSPAC and several other large human biobanks were used to scour the human genome for single-letter variants associated with obesity. The work turned up a gene called FTO, and found that adults with two 'risk' copies of this gene are about 3 kilograms heavier, on average, than those with no risk copies. The discovery became a poster child for the identification of risk alleles through genome-wide association studies, a technique that was sweeping through the genetics community at the time.

Of course, what this means is that FTO variants are associated with obesity in people born in and around Bristol. Nature and nurture can not be unwoven: obesogenic gene variants are only obesogenic when combined with our current western obesogenic environments.

I wonder what the association is between obesity and growing up in Bristol City versus sprawling South Glos, or in proximity to one of the region's quality cycle routes…

I see they've done environmental associations with obesity at age 7:

Sedentary behaviour: The odds ratio for obesity increased linearly as the number of hours of television viewing increased (??2test for linear trend 26.7). For children reported to watch television for 4-8 hours per week at age 3 the adjusted odds ratio for obesity at age 7 was 1.37 (1.02 to 1.83). For those reported to watch more than eight hours per week the adjusted odds ratio was 1.55 (1.13 to 2.12).

Many putative risk factors for obesity in our study were not independently associated with the risk of obesity in childhood: … and time spent in the car.

of course, for a variable to show an association, it has to actually vary. And everyone in Britain is stuck with the consequences of the same almost uniform car sick environment, whether they travel by car themselves or not…

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