Performing different kinds of physical exercise differentially attenuates the genetic effects on obesity measures: Evidence from 18,424 Taiwan Biobank participants

Wan Yu Lin*, Chang Chuan Chan, Yu Li Liu, Albert C. Yang, Shih Jen Tsai, Po Hsiu Kuo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Obesity is a worldwide health problem that is closely linked to many metabolic disorders. Regular physical exercise has been found to attenuate the genetic predisposition to obesity. However, it remains unknown what kinds of exercise can modify the genetic risk of obesity. This study included 18,424 unrelated Han Chinese adults aged 30-70 years who participated in the Taiwan Biobank (TWB). A total of 5 obesity measures were investigated here, including body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage (BFP), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Because there have been no large genome-wide association studies on obesity for Han Chinese, we used the TWB internal weights to construct genetic risk scores (GRSs) for each obesity measure, and then test the significance of GRS-by-exercise interactions. The significance level throughout this work was set at 0.05/550 = 9.1x10-5 because a total of 550 tests were performed. Performing regular exercise was found to attenuate the genetic effects on 4 obesity measures, including BMI, BFP, WC, and HC. Among the 18 kinds of self-reported regular exercise, 6 mitigated the genetic effects on at least one obesity measure. Regular jogging blunted the genetic effects on BMI, BFP, and HC. Mountain climbing, walking, exercise walking, international standard dancing, and a longer practice of yoga also attenuated the genetic effects on BMI. Exercises such as cycling, stretching exercise, swimming, dance dance revolution, and qigong were not found to modify the genetic effects on any obesity measure. Across all 5 obesity measures, regular jogging consistently presented the most significant interactions with GRSs. Our findings show that the genetic effects on obesity measures can be decreased to various extents by performing different kinds of exercise. The benefits of regular physical exercise are more impactful in subjects who are more predisposed to obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008277
JournalPLoS Genetics
Volume15
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

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