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Comprehensive genomic analysis of dietary habits in UK Biobank identifies hundreds of genetic loci and establishes causal relationships between educational attainment and healthy eating

By Joanne Cole, Jose C. Florez, Joel N. Hirschhorn

Posted 06 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/662239 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15193-0)

Unhealthy dietary habits are leading risk factors for life-altering diseases and mortality. Large-scale biobanks now enable genetic analysis of traits with modest heritability, such as diet. We performed genomewide association on 85 single food intake and 85 principal component-derived dietary patterns from food frequency questionnaires in UK Biobank. We identified 814 associated loci, including olfactory receptor associations with fruit and tea intake; 136 associations were only identified using dietary patterns. Mendelian randomization suggests a Western vs. prudent dietary pattern is causally influenced by factors correlated with education but is not strongly causal for coronary artery disease or type 2 diabetes.

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