Genetic associations with acute stress-related changes in eating in the absence of hunger

Femke Rutters, Sofie G T Lemmens, Jurriaan M Born, Freek Bouwman, Arie G Nieuwenhuizen, Edwin Mariman, Margriet S Westerterp-Plantenga

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22 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Acute psychological stress is associated with eating in the absence of hunger.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate if BclI and FTO polymorphisms are associated with eating in the absence of hunger as a result of acute psychological stress.

METHODS: FTO (rs9939609) and BclI were genotyped in 98 subjects (BMI=23.9+/-3.3kg/m(2)). In a randomized crossover design, the 'eating in absence of hunger' protocol was measured as a function of acute stress vs. a control task and of STAI (State Trait Anxiety Index) state scores.

RESULTS: In comparison with the FTO T allele, the A allele was associated with an increased feelings of hunger after food intake in the stress (11+/-10 vs. 18+/-15, p<0.01) and control condition (12+/-9 vs. 16+/-12, p<0.05), even though food intake was not different. For the first time, it was observed that in comparison to the BclI C/C genotype, the BclI G/G genotype was associated with higher STAI states scores at 0, 10, and 20min after the stress condition (30.8+/-6.4 vs. 36.3+/-8.2; 28.3+/-5.5 vs. 32.3+/-7.5; 27.7+/-6.1 vs. 31.2+/-7.5, p<0.05). Additionally, the BclI G/G genotype was associated with a larger difference in energy intake between the stress and control condition, in comparison with the BclI C/C genotype (136.6+/-220.4 vs. 29.4+/-176.3kJ, p<0.04).

CONCLUSION: In concordance with previous studies, the FTO A allele is related to a lower feeling of hunger after a standardized meal. For the first time, the BclI G/G genotype is shown to be associated with increased sensitivity to psychological stress, and increased eating in the absence of hunger after stress.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Interventions to reduce body weight should consider the subjects' genetic background.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-71
Number of pages5
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenase FTO
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight/genetics
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific/metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity/genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Proteins/genetics
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid/genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological/complications
  • Young Adult

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