Heritability of hyperphagic eating behavior and appetite-related hormones among hispanic children

Jennifer O. Fisher, Guowen Cai, Sandra J. Jaramillo, Shelly A. Cole, Anthony G. Comuzzie, Nancy F. Butte

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    105 Scopus citations


    Objective: Eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) may be a genetically influenced phenotype of overweight children, but evidence is limited. This research evaluated the heritability (h2) of EAH and its association with overweight among Hispanic children 5 to 18 years old. Genetic and environmental associations of EAH with overweight, fat mass, and key hormonal regulators of food intake were also evaluated. Research Methods and Procedures: A family design was used to study 801 children from 300 Hispanic families. Weighed food intakes were used to measure EAH after an ad libitum dinner providing 50% of estimated energy needs. Fasting ghrelin, amylin, insulin, and leptin were measured by immunoassays. Measured heights, weights, and fat mass (using DXA) were obtained. Total energy expenditure (TEE) was measured by room respiration calorimetry. Results: On average, children consumed 41% of TEE at the dinner meal, followed by an additional 19% of TEE in the absence of hunger. Overweight children consumed 6.5% more energy at dinner (p < 0.001) and 14% more energy in the absence of hunger (p < 0.001) than non-overweight children. Significant heritabilities were seen for EAH (h2 = 0.51) and dinner intake (h2 = 0.52) and for fasting levels of ghrelin (h2 = 0.67), amylin (h2 = 0.37), insulin (h2 = 0.37), and leptin (h2 = 0.34). Genetic correlations were seen between eating behavior and fasting hormones, suggesting common underlying genes affecting their expression. Discussion: This research provides new evidence that overweight Hispanic children exhibit elevated levels of hyperphagic eating behaviors that are influenced by genetic endowment.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1484-1495
    Number of pages12
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Jun 2007


    • Childhood obesity
    • Eating behaviors
    • Energy intake
    • Genetic susceptibility
    • Hispanics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
    • Endocrinology
    • Nutrition and Dietetics


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