Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated (FTO) Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Physical Activity, Food Intake, Eating Behaviors, Psychological Health, and Modeled Change in Body Mass Index in Overweight/Obese Caucasian Adults

The fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene is currently recognized as the most robust predictor of polygenic obesity. We investigated associations between the FTO rs1421085 and rs17817449 polymorphisms and the FTO rs1421085–rs17817449 haplotype and dietary intake, eating behavior, physical activity, and psychological health, as well as the effect of these associations on BMI. N = 133 treatment seeking overweight/obese Caucasian adults participated in this study. Genotyping was performed from whole blood samples. Weight and height was measured and a non-quantified food frequency questionnaire was completed to assess food group intake. Validated questionnaires were completed to assess physical activity (Baecke questionnaire), psychological health (General Health questionnaire, Rosenburg self-esteem scale and Beck Depression Inventory), and eating behavior (Three Factor Eating questionnaire). The risk alleles of the FTO polymorphisms were associated with poorer eating behaviors (higher hunger, internal locus for hunger, and emotional disinhibition scores), a higher intake of high fat foods and refined starches and more depressive symptoms. The modeled results indicate that interactions between the FTO polymorphisms or haplotypes and eating behavior, psychological health, and physical activity levels may be associated with BMI. The clinical significance of these results for implementation as part of weight management interventions needs further investigation.