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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Implications of gene-behavior interactions: Prevention and intervention for obesity

item Bray, Molly

Submitted to: Obesity
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2008
Publication Date: 12/1/2008
Citation: Bray, M.S. 2008. Implications of gene-behavior interactions: Prevention and intervention for obesity. Obesity. 16(Suppl.3):S72-S78.

Interpretive Summary: Variation in DNA sequence (genetic variation) is related to the differences we see in the population in terms of body size and obesity status. Genetic variation may also be related to how a person eats and exercises. This review article summarizes the current published literature on gene-diet and gene-exercise interactions as they relate to the development of obesity.

Technical Abstract: A vast body of research exists to demonstrate that obesity is a complex disorder with a strong genetic basis and a multifactorial etiology. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence that genes play an important role in the development of obesity, many people argue that the increasing prevalence of obesity is simply due to an abundance of palatable food and a dearth of opportunities for physical exercise. While activity and eating behaviors contribute substantially to the development of obesity, considering these to be the only etiologic factors is directly contradictory to what is now known about how eating and energy balance are regulated. Our understanding of the molecular processes controlling eating behavior, in particular, has accelerated exponentially in the last 10 years, and this is one area in which obesity genetics has made great progress. Our challenge is to understand more fully how genetic variation may interact with behavioral factors to influence the regulation of body weight and adiposity. Although exercise and diet strategies are used routinely for obesity treatment, there is a huge variability in how individuals respond to these interventions. There is also a substantial amount of evidence that such responses may also be regulated by genes. Understanding gene–response relationships is the key to developing more efficacious intervention and prevention programs for obesity.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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