Faculty Articles

A Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated Gene Polymorphism Influences Fat Mass in Exercise-Trained Individuals

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Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition








BACKGROUND: A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene is a strong predictor of obesity in humans. The FTO SNP (rs1421085) results in a T to C nucleotide substitution that may result in an increased risk for obesity in individuals who carry at least one C allele. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize the FTO genotype in a cohort of exercise-trained men and women.

METHODS: We tested 108 exercise-trained individuals that included professional mixed martial arts fighters, competitive distance runners, collegiate swimmers, stand-up paddlers as well as a cohort of recreational bodybuilders. Body composition was assessed via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Saliva samples were collected in order to genotype participants and quantify cortisol levels.

RESULTS: The physical characteristics of the subjects were as follows (mean±SD): body weight 74.5±15.6 kg; height 171.5±9.5 cm; bone mineral content 2.8±0.7 kg; fat mass 15.7±5.5 kg; lean body mass 55.9±14.4 kg; % body fat 21.6±7.0. Independent samples t tests showed that C allele carriers (n = 54) had significantly higher fat mass t(106) = 3.13, p < 0.01 and body fat percentage t(106) = 2.68, p < 0.01, relative to the TT group (n = 54) (i.e., fat mass: C/- 17.3 ±5.6 kg, TT 14.2±4.6 kg; body fat percentage: C/- group 23.4±7.4%, TT group 19.9±6.2). No other measures of body composition were associated with the FTO genotype (i.e., body mineral density, bone mineral content, or lean body mass). Moreover, cortisol levels were significantly higher in the TT group relative to the C allele carriers t(106) = 2.37, p = 0.02 (i.e., TT 0.35 ±0.35 μg/dL, C/- 0.22±0.16 μg/dL).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate a relationship between C allele carriers on the FTO gene and a predisposition to a higher fat mass and body fat percentage. In addition, we found no relationship between cortisol and fat mass. However, due to the cross-sectional nature of this investigation, we cannot infer causality regarding the FTO gene and body composition.



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Peer Reviewed

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