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April 2014

Appetite for Prevention: Genetics and Developmental Epidemiology Join Forces in Obesity Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(4):309-311. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5291

The obesogenic environment does not affect all children equally. Diminished opportunities for physical activity in daily life and increasing availability and declining cost of calorie-dense foods are primary culprits in the obesity epidemic. But there is more to obesity than the environment. Even children raised together in the same family may experience diverging trajectories of body mass.1 The fact that children confronted with similar environmental circumstances experience disparate outcomes has been attributed to genetic factors.2 And family-based and molecular genetic methods indicate substantial genetic contributions to obesity etiology.3 But just what these genetic factors are and just how they contribute to individual differences in response to the obesogenic environment remains, if not entirely a mystery, an enduring puzzle.4