Exposure to food advertisements may cue overeating among children, especially among those genetically predisposed to respond to food cues. We aimed to assess how television food advertisements affect eating in the absence of hunger among children in a randomized trial. We hypothesized that the fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) rs9939609 single-nucleotide polymorphism would modify the effect of food advertisements.
In this randomized experiment, 200 children aged 9–10 years were served a standardized lunch and then shown a 34-min television show embedded with either food or toy advertisements. Children were provided with snack food to consume ad libitum while watching the show and we measured caloric intake. Children were genotyped for rs9939609 and analyses were conducted in the overall sample and stratified by genotype. A formal test for interaction of the food advertisement effect on consumption by rs9939609 was conducted.
About 172 unrelated participants were included in this analysis. Children consumed on average 453 (s.d.=185) kcals during lunch and 482 (s.d.=274) kcals during the experimental exposure. Children who viewed food advertisements consumed an average of 48 kcals (95% confidence interval: 10, 85; P=0.01) more of a recently advertised food than those who viewed toy advertisements. There was a statistically significant interaction between genotype and food advertisement condition (P for interaction=0.02), where the difference in consumption of a recently advertised food related to food advertisement exposure increased linearly with each additional FTO risk allele, even after controlling for body mass index percentile.
Food advertisement exposure was associated with greater caloric consumption of a recently advertised food, and this effect was modified by an FTO genotype. Future research is needed to understand the neurological mechanism underlying these associations.
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This study was supported by grant R21HD076097 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH) (Dr Gilbert-Diamond); by grant R01DA022582 from the National Institute of Drug Addiction (NIH) (Heatherton); by grant R01CA077026 from the National Cancer Institute (NIH) (Sargent); by grant R01AA021347 from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) (Sargent); by grant NIHGMS P20GM104416 from the NIH (Dr Karagas); by grant ES022832 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) (Dr Karagas); and by grant RD83544201 from the Environmental Protection Agency (Dr Karagas). The funding sources had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis and interpretation of the data; preparation, review or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
Dr G-D had full access to the data and takes full responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Study concept and design: G-D, RKL, WMK, TFH, JDS. Acquisition of data: G-D, RKL, KMR. Analysis and interpretation of data: G-D, JAE, JDS. Drafting of the manuscript: G-D, JAE. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All the authors. Statistical analysis: G-D, JAE. Obtaining funding: G-D, TFH, JDS. Administrative, technical or material support: RKL. Study supervision: G-D.
Participating children and their caregivers enabled this research study to happen. Horacio Romero Castillo, Archana Ramanujam and other study staff members contributed significantly to running this study. Margaret R Karagas, Department of Epidemiology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, obtained additional funding for this study.
About this article
Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on International Journal of Obesity website (http://www.nature.com/ijo)
Nature Reviews Neuroscience (2017)