Genetics and Low Socio-Economic Status May Lead to Higher BMI

Genetics and Low Socio-Economic Status May Lead to Higher BMI – Research has revealed a complex interplay between genetics, socio-economic position (SEP), and body mass index (BMI). While individuals with higher SEP tend to have lower BMIs, this study finds that genetic factors contribute to differences across all SEP levels, particularly in lower SEP groups.

Key Findings:

  • Inverse Relationship: Higher SEP (education, income, social class) correlates with lower BMI.
  • Genetic Influences: Individuals with lower SEP are more likely to carry genetic variants linked to higher BMI.
  • Environment Plays a Role: Low SEP environments may amplify the effects of these genetic predispositions.
  • Sex Differences: Women exhibit steeper SEP-BMI gradients and stronger associations between genetic predisposition and BMI than men.

Strengths of the Study:

  • Large, population-representative sample with high response rates.
  • Use of multiple SEP indicators and measured BMI data.
  • Consideration of genetic predisposition (PGS-BMI) and its interaction with SEP.

Limitations and Future Research: Genetics, Socio-Economic Position, and BMI


  • Incomplete picture of genetic influence: Although the study uses polygenic scores (PGS-BMI), they only explain a portion of the total genetic influence on BMI. Other genetic factors not captured by PGS-BMI may also play a role.
  • Environmental interactions remain unclear: The study acknowledges the impact of environmental factors on the expression of genetic predispositions, but the specific environmental factors and their interactions with genetics need further investigation.
  • Cross-sectional design: The study’s cross-sectional design limits the ability to infer causality. Longitudinal studies are needed to understand how SEP and genetic factors influence BMI change over time.
  • Generalizability limited: While the study uses a large, population-representative sample, it is focused on Finland. Replicating the study in other regions with different cultural and socioeconomic contexts is crucial to assess the generalizability of the findings.

Future Research:

  • Deeper dive into environmental factors: Identifying specific environmental factors associated with lower SEP that potentiate the effects of genetic predispositions can inform targeted interventions.
  • Longitudinal studies: Following individuals across their life course can reveal how SEP and genetic factors interact to influence BMI trajectories and health outcomes.
  • Epigenetic studies: Exploring epigenetic modifications that regulate gene expression can provide insights into how environmental factors modulate the effects of genetic predispositions.
  • Cross-cultural comparisons: Replicating the study in diverse populations can reveal potential variations in the interplay between genetics, SEP, and BMI across different cultural contexts.
  • Precision medicine approaches: Understanding the individual risk profiles based on genetics and SEP can pave the way for personalized strategies for obesity prevention and management. Study source

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