BACKGROUND: Acute psychological stress is associated with eating in the absence of hunger.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate if BclI and FTO polymorphisms are associated with eating in the absence of hunger as a result of acute psychological stress.
METHODS: FTO (rs9939609) and BclI were genotyped in 98 subjects (BMI=23.9+/-3.3kg/m(2)). In a randomized crossover design, the 'eating in absence of hunger' protocol was measured as a function of acute stress vs. a control task and of STAI (State Trait Anxiety Index) state scores.
RESULTS: In comparison with the FTO T allele, the A allele was associated with an increased feelings of hunger after food intake in the stress (11+/-10 vs. 18+/-15, p<0.01) and control condition (12+/-9 vs. 16+/-12, p<0.05), even though food intake was not different. For the first time, it was observed that in comparison to the BclI C/C genotype, the BclI G/G genotype was associated with higher STAI states scores at 0, 10, and 20min after the stress condition (30.8+/-6.4 vs. 36.3+/-8.2; 28.3+/-5.5 vs. 32.3+/-7.5; 27.7+/-6.1 vs. 31.2+/-7.5, p<0.05). Additionally, the BclI G/G genotype was associated with a larger difference in energy intake between the stress and control condition, in comparison with the BclI C/C genotype (136.6+/-220.4 vs. 29.4+/-176.3kJ, p<0.04).
CONCLUSION: In concordance with previous studies, the FTO A allele is related to a lower feeling of hunger after a standardized meal. For the first time, the BclI G/G genotype is shown to be associated with increased sensitivity to psychological stress, and increased eating in the absence of hunger after stress.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Interventions to reduce body weight should consider the subjects' genetic background.