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Genes May Determine Harmfulness of Eating Fried Foods

Update Date: Mar 18, 2014 06:26 PM EDT

DNA may determine whether you'll gain weight from eating fried foods. New research reveals that people who are genetically prone to obesity are significantly more likely to become obese or develop related chronic diseases from eating fried foods.

Researchers said that latest study is the first to demonstrate that genetic makeup determines the negative effects of eating fried foods.

"Our study shows that a higher genetic risk of obesity may amplify the adverse effects of fried food consumption on body weight, and high intakes of fried food may also exacerbate the deleterious genetic effects," lead author Lu Qi, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH and Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in a news release.

The latest study involved data from 9,623 women in the Nurses' Health Study, 6,379 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and 21,426 women in the Women's Genome Health Study.

Participants were asked to complete food frequency questionnaires that asked how often they ate fried foods both at home and away from home. Researchers also evaluated participants' body mass index (BMI) and lifestyle factors, like exercise and physical activity.

Researchers explained that genetic risk scores were measured based on genetic variants associated with BMI.

The findings revealed that regular consumption of fried foods was associated with higher BMI. The findings held true even after taking into account other dietary and lifestyle factors.

However, the study revealed that overconsumption of friend foods was particularly harmful for individuals with a greater genetic predisposition to obesity.  In contrast, the genetic effect on BMI among people who ate fried foods more than four times a week was about twice as strong compared with those who ate fried foods less than once a week.

"Our findings indicate that genetic risk of obesity could be mitigated by simply changing an eating habit," said Frank Hu, co-author and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, according to a statement. "From a public health point of view, everyone should be encouraged to adopt healthy eating habits, not just those who are genetically susceptible."

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

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