Journal Articles

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Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine


BACKGROUND: Whether genetics contribute to the rising prevalence of obesity or its cardiovascular consequences in today's obesogenic environment remains unclear. We sought to determine whether the effects of a higher aggregate genetic burden of obesity risk on body mass index (BMI) or cardiovascular disease (CVD) differed by birth year.

METHODS: We split the FHS (Framingham Heart Study) into 4 equally sized birth cohorts (birth year before 1932, 1932 to 1946, 1947 to 1959, and after 1960). We modeled a genetic predisposition to obesity using an additive genetic risk score (GRS) of 941 BMI-associated variants and tested for GRS-birth year interaction on log-BMI (outcome) when participants were around 50 years old (N=7693). We repeated the analysis using a GRS of 109 BMI-associated variants that increased CVD risk factors (type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein) in addition to BMI. We then evaluated whether the effects of the BMI GRSs on CVD risk differed by birth cohort when participants were around 60 years old (N=5493).

RESULTS: Compared with participants born before 1932 (mean age, 50.8 yrs [2.4]), those born after 1960 (mean age, 43.3 years [4.5]) had higher BMI (median, 25.4 [23.3-28.0] kg/m

CONCLUSIONS: The significant GRS-birth year interactions indicate that common genetic variants have larger effects on middle-age BMI and CVD risk in people born more recently. These findings suggest that the increasingly obesogenic environment may amplify the impact of genetics on the risk of obesity and possibly its cardiovascular consequences.


Middle Aged, Humans, Adult, Cardiovascular Diseases, Body Mass Index, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Obesity, Risk Factors



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