The genomics of childhood eating behaviours

Moritz Herle, Mohamed Abdulkadir, Christopher Hubel, Diana Santos Ferreira, Rachel Bryant-Waugh, Ruth Loos, Cynthia M. Bulik, Bianca De Stavola, Nadia Micali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Eating behaviours may be expressions of genetic risk for obesity and are potential antecedents of later eating disorders. However, childhood eating behaviours are heterogeneous and transient. Here we show associations between polygenic scores for body mass index (BMI-PGS) and anorexia nervosa (AN-PGS) with eating behaviour trajectories during the first 10 years of life using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), n = 7,825. Results indicated that 1 s.d. increase in the BMI-PGS was associated with a 30-37% increased risk for early- and mid-childhood overeating. In contrast, 1 s.d. increase in BMI-PGS was associated with a 20% decrease in risk of persistent high levels of undereating and a 15% decrease in risk of persistent fussy eating. There was no evidence for a significant association between AN-PGS and eating behaviour trajectories. Our results support the notion that child eating behaviours share common genetic variants associated with BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-630
Number of pages6
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Issue number5
Early online date11 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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