Increasing heritability of BMI and stronger associations with the FTO gene over childhood

Claire M A Haworth, Susan Carnell, Emma L. Meaburn, Oliver S P Davis, Robert Plomin, Jane Wardle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


The growing evidence of health risks associated with the rise in childhood obesity adds to the urgency of understanding the determinants of BMI. Twin analyses on repeated assessments of BMI in a longitudinal sample of >7,000 children indicated that the genetic influence on BMI becomes progressively stronger, with heritability increasing from 0.48 at age 4 to 0.78 at age 11. In the same large twin sample, the association between a common variant in the FTO gene and BMI increased in parallel with the rise in heritability, going from R2 < 0.001 at age 4 to R2 = 0.01 at age 11. These findings suggest that expression of FTO may become stronger throughout childhood. Increases in heritability may also be due to children increasingly selecting environments correlated with their genetic propensities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2663-2668
Number of pages6
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


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