Food and Behaviour Research

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Behavior related genes, dietary preferences and anthropometric traits

Berciano S, Lai C-Q, Jesus Herranz J, Aslibekyan S, Claas SA, Irvin MR, Tsai MY, Hopkins PN, Bertha Hidalgo B, Arnett DK, Jose M Ordovas JM, Tiwari H (2017) FASEB  31 no. 1 Supplement 299.1  

Web URL: Read the article on The FACEB Journal here


Food preferences and cognitive control influence dietary habits thus affecting compliance with dietary advice and the risk of chronic diseases. A complex mix of genetic and environmental, cultural and social factors drives these preferences. Therefore, efforts to improve diet and behavior at the individual level should take into consideration this distinct combination of genetic and environmental factors, specifically addressing the psychological component of food consumption with the goal of facilitating long-term compliance with dietary interventions.


To investigate the association between behavioral candidate genes, food preferences and anthropometric traits.

Population and Methods 

For this purpose we used data from the Genetics and Lipid Lowering Drugs and Diet Network (GOLDN) Study including two genetically homogeneous sites (Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Salt Lake City, Utah). In the current study, 818 participants (404 men and 414 women) of European ancestry were included in our analyses. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within 38 loci (1359 SNPs) selected on the basis of previous associations with several behavioral and psychological traits (i.e., stress, addiction, depression, impulsivity, novelty-seeking, aberrant eating) were extracted from the original genome genotype data that was generated from the Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 (Affymetrix). Information about dietary intake was collected with the use of a diet-history questionnaire, which was developed by the National Cancer Institute.


Multiple nominally significant associations (p<0.05) were observed between genetic variability at the selected loci and the consumption of specific foods and nutrients. However, after adjustment for multiple comparisons, significant associations (Padj<0.05) were observed for the FTO locus with vegetable and total fiber intake; the CREB1 and GABRA2 loci were associated with salt intake; and the SLC6A2 with total fat and monounsaturated fatty acids. Finally, chocolate intake was associated with variation at the OXTR locus. The most significant association with anthropometric traits was found for OXTR and waist circumference.


Our data indicate that genes implicated in behavioral and psychological traits drive a significant component of an individual’s food preferences and dietary habits. This information will contribute to a better understanding of eating behavior and facilitate the implementation of personalized dietary advice that should result in better compliance and more successful prevention and therapy of chronic disorders.


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