Early life and genetic associations of adult metabolic dysregulation
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Previous research has shown an association between childhood environmental influences and metabolic dysregulation. In particular, an early family environment characterized by neglectful parenting, overt conflict, and unsupportive relationships has been associated with obesity and adiposity in adulthood. Likewise, the GABAergic (gamma aminobutyric acid) T>C single nucleotide polymorphism in the 1519 nucleotide position of the GABAAα6 receptor subunit gene has been associated with a predisposition to a higher body mass index and a larger waist circumference. Though research into gene by environment interactions on metabolic health is a developing field, allele frequency in a population’s gene pool tends to remain stable across many generations, making it unlikely that single nucleotide polymorphisms are the primary cause of rising obesity rates in adulthood. Participants (n=213, Mage = 30.13 years, SD= 10.85; 57.7% men) from the Pittsburgh Cold Study 3 completed a demographic questionnaire, the Risky Families Questionnaire and had their height, weight and waist circumference measured during a physical exam. Participant DNA was recovered from buccal swabs and genotyped for the various allelic types of the single nucleotide polymorphisms according to published protocols. In secondary data analyses, we tested the hypothesis that early family environment, GABRA6 and their statistical interaction would be positively associated with body mass index and waist circumference. The findings provide evidence that early family environment may exert more influence than genetic predisposition when determining indices of metabolic health.