Nature vs Nurture in Early Feeding Behavior

Speaker: L. Cooke Presented at: 2014 85th Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop

Summary

Lucy Cooke (Health Behaviour Research Centre, UK) discussed the findings of the Gemini Study, which investigated genetic and environmental determinants of appetitive traits in 2,402 families with monozygotic and same-sex dizygotic twins born March–December 2007. Based on evaluation of four appetitive traits of food responsiveness, satiety responsiveness, food enjoyment and slowness in eating, the study suggested the relationship between appetite and weight gain is bi-directional. High heritability in monozygotic twins for all four traits suggests a strong genetic component in feeding behaviour. Children who carried the high-risk FTO (fat mass and obesity-associated) allele had the highest body mass index and scored lower in sensitivity to signals of satiety. Those homozygous for the low-risk allele had the lowest body mass index. These findings suggest that identification of at-risk individuals may be possible in infancy. However, further studies are needed to determine whether appetitive traits are amenable to change