Obesity, genomic ancestry, and socioeconomic variables in Latin American mestizos

Ruderman, Anahí; Pérez, Luis O.; Adhikari, Kaustubh; Navarro, Pablo; Ramallo, Virginia; Gallo, Carla; Poletti, Giovanni; Bedoya, Gabriel; Bortolini, Maria C.; Acuña-Alonzo, Victor; Canizales-Quinteros, Samuel; Rothhammer, Francisco; Ruiz-Linares, Andres and González-José, Rolando (2019). Obesity, genomic ancestry, and socioeconomic variables in Latin American mestizos. American Journal of Human Biology, 31(5), article no. e23278.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.23278


Objectives: This article aims to assess the contribution of genomic ancestry and socioeconomic status to obesity in a sample of admixed Latin Americans.

Methods: The study comprised 6776 adult volunteers from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. Each volunteer completed a questionnaire about socioeconomic variables. Anthropometric variables such as weight, height, waist, and hip circumference were measured to calculate body indices: body mass index, waist‐to‐hip ratio and waist‐to‐height ratio (WHtR). Genetic data were extracted from blood samples, and ancestry was estimated using chip genotypes. Multiple linear regression was used to evaluate the relationship between the indices and ancestry, educational level, and economic well‐being. The body indices were dichotomized to obesity indices by using appropriate thresholds. Odds ratios were calculated for each obesity index.

Results: The sample showed high percentages of obesity by all measurements. However, indices did not overlap consistently when classifying obesity. WHtR resulted in the highest prevalence of obesity. Overall, women with low education level and men with high economic wellness were more likely to be obese. American ancestry was statistically associated with obesity indices, although to a lesser extent than socioeconomic variables.

Conclusions: The proportion of obesity was heavily dependent on the index and the population. Genomic ancestry has a significant influence on the anthropometric measurements, especially on central adiposity. As a whole, we detected a large interpopulation variation that suggests that better approaches to overweight and obesity phenotypes are needed in order to obtain more precise reference values.

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