Are some kids genetically more vulnerable to food advertising?
(Reuters Health) - Children exposed to food advertisements are more likely to overeat, especially if they have a specific version of a gene linked to obesity, a recent study suggests. A gene known as the fat mass and obesity-associated gene, or FTO, comes in various slightly different versions, and was the first to be linked to obesity by genetic studies, the researchers write October 18 in the International Journal of Obesity. These kinds of genes interacting with an environment full of junk food ads may make children more likely to reach for a snack when it’s advertised on TV, even when they’re full, putting them at even greater risk of obesity, the study team writes. “Many people ask me why they can’t walk past a plate of brownies sitting on a table when their best friend can,” said Dr. Diane Gilbert-Diamond, lead study author and assistant professor of epidemiology at Dartmouth College in Lebanon, New Hampshire. “It’s a compelling question because it gets to the individual differences in how people respond to food,” she told Reuters Health. “Many people think it’s a matter of self-control, yet our research looks at how food cues motivate consumption.” Previous studies have shown that food advertising on television can influence how people react to and consume food. Past research has also shown that having a high-risk version of FTO is associated with a 20 percent higher likelihood of being obese compared to people with other versions of the gene. In the current study, 172 children from the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock,...Read the full article here