British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Association of the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene variant (rs9939609) with dietary intake in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study

Tiina Lappalainena1 c1, Jaana Lindströma2a3, Jussi Paananena1, Johan G. Erikssona2a4a5a6a7, Leila Karhunena1, Jaakko Tuomilehtoa2a3a8 and Matti Uusitupaa1a9 for the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study Group

a1 Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, PO Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland

a2 Department of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

a3 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

a4 Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

a5 Unit of General Practice, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

a6 Folkhalsan Research Centre, Helsinki, Finland

a7 Vasa Central Hospital, Vasa, Finland

a8 South Ostrobothnia Central Hospital, Seinäjoki, Finland

a9 Research Unit, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland


A cluster of variants in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene are associated with the common form of obesity. Well-documented dietary data are required for identifying how the genetic risk can be modified by dietary factors. The objective of the present study was to investigate the associations between the FTO risk allele (rs9939609) and dietary intake, and to evaluate how dietary intake affects the association between FTO and BMI in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study during a mean follow-up of 3·2 years. A total of 479 (BMI >25 kg/m2) men and women were genotyped for rs9939609. The participants completed a 3 d food record at baseline and before every annual study visit. The average intakes at baseline and during the years 1, 2 and 3 were calculated. At baseline, the FTO variant rs9939609 was not associated with the mean values of total energy intake, macronutrients or fibre. At baseline, a higher BMI by the FTO risk genotype was detected especially in those who reported a diet high in fat with mean BMI of 30·6 (sd 4·1), 31·3 (sd 4·6) and 34·5 (sd 6·2) kg/m2 for TT, TA and AA carriers, respectively (P =0·005). Higher BMI was also observed in those who had a diet low in carbohydrates (P =0·028) and fibre (P =0·015). However, in the analyses adjusted for total energy intake, age and sex, significant interactions between FTO and dietary intakes were not found. These findings suggest that the association between the FTO genotype and obesity is influenced by the components of dietary intake, and the current dietary recommendations are particularly beneficial for those who are genetically susceptible for obesity.

(Received August 11 2011)

(Revised November 25 2011)

(Accepted December 13 2011)

(Online publication January 23 2012)

Key Words:

  • FTO gene;
  • Diet;
  • Obesity;
  • Polymorphisms;
  • Genetics


c1 Corresponding author: Dr T. Lappalainen, fax +358 17 163 2792, email


  Abbreviations: DPS, Diabetes Prevention Study; E %, percentage of energy