Changes in Physical Activity Following a Genetic-Based Internet-Delivered Personalized Intervention: Randomized Controlled Trial (Food4Me)

Cyril F. M. Marsaux*, Carlos Celis-Morales, Katherine M. Livingstone, Rosalind Fallaize, Silvia Kolossa, Jacqueline Hallmann, Rodrigo San-Cristobal, Santiago Navas-Carretero, Clare B. O'Donovan, Clara Woolhead, Hannah Forster, George Moschonis, Christina-Paulina Lambrinou, Agnieszka Surwillo, Magdalena Godlewska, Jettie Hoonhout, Annelies Goris, Anna L. Macready, Marianne C. Walsh, Eileen R. GibneyLorraine Brennan, Yannis Manios, Iwona Traczyk, Christian A. Drevon, Julie A. Lovegrove, J. Alfredo Martinez, Hannelore Daniel, Michael J. Gibney, John C. Mathers, Wim H. M. Saris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: There is evidence that physical activity (PA) can attenuate the influence of the fat mass- and obesity-associated (FTO) genotype on the risk to develop obesity. However, whether providing personalized information on FTO genotype leads to changes in PA is unknown. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if disclosing FTO risk had an impact on change in PA following a 6-month intervention. Methods: The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs9939609 in the FTO gene was genotyped in 1279 participants of the Food4Me study, a four-arm, Web-based randomized controlled trial (RCT) in 7 European countries on the effects of personalized advice on nutrition and PA. PA was measured objectively using a TracmorD accelerometer and was self-reported using the Baecke questionnaire at baseline and 6 months. Differences in baseline PA variables between risk (AA and AT genotypes) and nonrisk (TT genotype) carriers were tested using multiple linear regression. Impact of FTO risk disclosure on PA change at 6 months was assessed among participants with inadequate PA, by including an interaction term in the model: disclosure (yes/no) x FTO risk (yes/no). Results: At baseline, data on PA were available for 874 and 405 participants with the risk and nonrisk FTO genotypes, respectively. There were no significant differences in objectively measured or self-reported baseline PA between risk and nonrisk carriers. A total of 807 (72.05%) of the participants out of 1120 in the personalized groups were encouraged to increase PA at baseline. Knowledge of FTO risk had no impact on PA in either risk or nonrisk carriers after the 6-month intervention. Attrition was higher in nonrisk participants for whom genotype was disclosed (P = .01) compared with their at-risk counterparts. Conclusions: No association between baseline PA and FTO risk genotype was observed. There was no added benefit of disclosing FTO risk on changes in PA in this personalized intervention. Further RCT studies are warranted to confirm whether disclosure of nonrisk genetic test results has adverse effects on engagement in behavior change.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • FTO
  • physical activity
  • personalized intervention
  • randomized controlled trial
  • genetic testing
  • disclosure
  • behavior change
  • Web based


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