Genetic Variation and Weight Gain

Exome Variants Underlying Weight Gain from Adolescence to Adulthood (1R01HD057194). Competing Continuation. National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Principal Investigator: Penny Gordon-Larsen. 4/01/2014-3/31/2019.

The objective of the proposed research is to investigate how genetic variation influences weight-related traits during the transition from adolescence to adulthood – a critical risk period for weight gain. This is an area where there has not been sufficient research to understand how individual susceptibility to environmental contexts influences attained size and trajectories of body mass change. We build on our successes in R01 HD057194 and capitalize on nationally representative, ethnically diverse, prospective and well-characterized data on 10,581 individuals from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to assess the association between weight-related traits and coding variants across a 15-year lifecycle period of dramatic weight gain between adolescence and adulthood. In addition, we are collaborating with researchers from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium (CHARGE), the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), and the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS) living under different environmental conditions but experiencing high levels of weight gain analogous to Add Health.

We have a wonderful team of UNC researchers, including (Drs. Kari North, Ethan Lange, Karen Mohlke, Annie Green Howard, Leslie Lange, Misa Graff, Kristin Young, Ken Bollen, and Kathie Mullan Harris).

The original project is:

Gene-Environment Interactions and Weight Gain (1R01-HD057194). National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Principal Investigator: Penny Gordon-Larsen. 09/30/2008-6/30/2013.

The objective of this research project is to investigate how genes, environment, and gene-environment interactions influence temporal changes in body mass index (BMI) at vulnerable periods of the life cycle. This is an area where there has not been sufficient research to understand how individual susceptibility to environmental contexts influences attained size and trajectories of body mass change. In this study, we use data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health)  to investigate how the effects of genetic variation are modified by the environment. We are particularly interested in identifying genetic loci influencing weight gain during the transition from late adolescence and early adulthood and how effects of these genes vary across European American, African American, Hispanic, and Asian American individuals. We are also investigating environmental factors that might predispose individuals to weight gain. Once we have a better understanding of the separate influence of genetic and environmental factors, we will move to gene by environment interactions to form a better understanding of interactions between genetic variation and modifiable environmental factors in the determination of weight gain.

Penny Gordon-Larsen has been working with the Add Health study for almost 15 years and has published widely with this wonderful dataset. The genetic data that we will develop as part of this project is able to be linked with a database that Gordon-Larsen and her team has developed for Add Health, called the Obesity & Neighborhood Environment database (ONEdata)