Nav: Home

The genes are not to blame

July 20, 2018

Individualized dietary recommendations based on genetic information are currently a popular trend. A team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has systematically analyzed scientific articles and reached the following conclusion: There is no clear evidence for the effect of genetic factors on the consumption of total calories, carbohydrates, and fat. According to the current state of knowledge, the expedience of gene-based dietary recommendations has yet to be proven.

Overweight and obesity have become a global health problem. According to the World Health Organization, 39 percent of adults in EU countries have overweight. In Germany more than 50 percent of adults suffer from overweight, almost one fifth is according to the Robert Koch Institute currently considered obese. This is primarily due to the modern lifestyle which is characterized by low physical activity and high-calorie foods.

Also genetic factors play a role in the occurrence of obesity. To date, around a hundred genes (loci) have been identified which are related to the body mass index (BMI). However, the functioning of these genes as well as the biological mechanisms behind them are still largely unknown. The investigation of the relationship between genetic factors and nutrition can shed light on whether the genes which are linked to BMI play a role in nutrition.

Systematic literature search

The initial database search of the TUM team revealed more than 10,000 scientific articles which were concerned with the topic. Of these, 39 articles were identified for a relationship between genetic factors and total energy, carbohydrate, or fat consumption. "In all studies, we most frequently encountered the fat mass and obesity (FTO) associated gene as well as the melanocortin 4 receptor gene (MC4R). There are indications of a relationship between these two genes and total energy intake," explains Christina Holzapfel, PhD, from the Institute of Nutritional Medicine at TUM.

However, the evaluation of the studies did not provide a uniform picture: "There is only limited evidence for the relationship between the FTO gene and low energy intake as well as between the MC4R gene and increased energy intake."

Hence, to date there exist no indications that certain genetic factors are associated with the total intake of calories, carbohydrates, and fat. The current state of knowledge is still too limited for deriving individual nutritional recommendations based on genetic information, e.g. for weight management, explains the researcher. Expert associations also agree with the latter statement.

"Human studies with detailed phenotyping, e.g. based on a genetic pre-analysis of the participants, are necessary in order to determine the interactions between genetic factors and diet on body weight. The "Personalized Nutrition & eHealth" Junior Research Group funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which is part of the enable nutrition cluster, is working precisely on this."
-end-
More information:

The interdisciplinary enable cluster is one of four nutrition research clusters funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and based at the Weihenstephan Science Centre of the TUM in Freising. enable develops new strategies to feed people in different phases of life more healthily - from birth to old age. More about Dr. Holzapfel's group: http://www.enable-cluster.de/penut

Publikation:

Theresa Drabsch, Jennifer Gatzemeier, Lisa Pfadenhauer, Hans Hauner, Christina Holzapfel: Associations between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Total Energy, Carbohydrate, and Fat Intakes: A Systematic Review, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 9, Issue 4, 1 July 2018, Pages 425-453, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy024

Contact:

Dr. rer. nat. Christina Holzapfel
Technical University of Munich
Nutritional Medicine
Phone: +49/89/289 249 23
Mail: christina.holzapfel@tum.de

Technical University of Munich (TUM)

Related Nutrition Articles:

Aquaculture's role in nutrition in the COVID-19 era
A new paper from American University examines the economics of an aquaculture industry of the future that is simultaneously environmentally sustainable and nutritious for the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who depend on it.
Fathers are more likely to be referred for nutrition or exercise counseling
Fatherhood status has been linked to medical providers' weight-related practices or counseling referrals.
Refugee children get better health, nutrition via e-vouchers
Electronic food vouchers provided young Rohingya children in Bangladeshi refugee camps with better health and nutrition than direct food assistance, according to new research led by Cornell University, in conjunction with the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Leaders call for 'Moonshot' on nutrition research
Leading nutrition and food policy experts outline a bold case for strengthening federal nutrition research in a live interactive session as part of NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).
Featured research from NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE
Press materials are now available for NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a dynamic virtual event showcasing new research findings and timely discussions on food and nutrition.
Diet, nutrition have profound effects on gut microbiome
A new literature review from scientists at George Washington University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology suggests that nutrition and diet have a profound impact on the microbial composition of the gut.
Are women getting adequate nutrition during preconception and pregnancy?
In a Maternal & Child Nutrition analysis of published studies on the dietary habits of women who were trying to conceive or were pregnant, most studies indicated that women do not meet nutritional recommendations for vegetable, cereal grain, or folate intake.
Supermarkets and child nutrition in Africa
Hunger and undernutrition are widespread problems in Africa. At the same time, overweight, obesity, and related chronic diseases are also on the rise.
Horse nutrition: Prebiotics do more harm than good
Prebiotics are only able to help stabilise the intestinal flora of horses to a limited degree.
New study measures how much of corals' nutrition comes from hunting
When it comes to feeding, corals have a few tricks up their sleeve.
More Nutrition News and Nutrition Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.