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Comment & Response
August 2016

DRD4, Income, and Children’s Food Choices: Plasticity Allele or Different Opportunities?—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
  • 2Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quèbec, Canada
  • 3Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montreal, Quèbec, Canada
  • 4Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill Center for the Convergence of Health and Economics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(8):810-811. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1043

In Reply There are 2 important comments made by Yeo et al1 about our article published in JAMA Pediatrics.2 First, the authors raise the possibility that “the differences observed might not be related to environmental influence on gene expression, but rather reflect the options available to the individual for gaining reward.”1 This is an interesting possibility; however, our finding of opposite behavior within the same social class does not support this idea. We showed that carriers of the 7-repeat allele raised in low socioeconomic statuses (and therefore exposed to poor healthy options such as fatty comfort foods) ate more fat than the noncarriers from the same social extract, who were equally exposed to fatty foods. This is also true for the high–socioeconomic status girls, in whom the difference in alleles was linked to high or low fat intake within the same social class.2 Therefore, under the same variety of rewarding options in a given environment (low or high socioeconomic status), 7-repeat carriers and noncarriers behaved in opposite ways. Regardless of the nature of rewards available in the environment, our theorizing is that the genetic background makes individuals more “open” to these environmental conditions,3 either obesogenic or protective.

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