Tall and thin or short and stout, University of Queensland, Australia scientists have discovered a genetic platform for height and body mass differences between European populations.
Queensland Brain Institute researcher, Dr. Matthew Robinson, said the research results could explain why people from northern European countries tended to typically be taller and slimmer than other Europeans are.
Dr. Robinson claimed the genes that resulted in greater height correlated closely with genes that decreased body mass index.
“Our findings give a genetic basis to the stereotype of Scandinavians as being tall and lean,” Dr. Robinson said.
The study opens the way to resolve whether genetics also influences the national differences in diseases such as dementia, diabetes, and heart disease.
Fellow researcher Professor Peter Visscher stated that the genetic dissimilarities were likely to result from natural selection on height and BMI.
“The research suggests that tall nations are genetically more likely to be slim,” Professor Visscher said.
Dr. Robinson said that on average, 24 percent of the genetic variation in height, and eight percent of the genetic variation in BMI could be explained by regional differences.
“Countries’ populations differ in many ways, from the height of their people to the prevalence of certain diseases,” he said.
The research investigated height and BMI differences in 9416 people from 14 European countries. The study also used data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS).
By way of explanation, Dr. Robinson said genetic variation between countries could account for national disparities in height. However, environmental influences were the main cause of all populations BMI.
“This suggests that differences in diet, for example, are more important than genetics in creating differences in BMI among nations.”
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The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, was done in collaboration with the UQ Diamantina Institute and The University of Melbourne. It was backed by the National Health and Medical Research Council
Lu, D. (2015, September 15). Tall and slim go together, genetic study finds. Retrieved September 15, 2015, from UQ News: http://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2015/09/tall-and-slim-go-together-genetic-study-finds
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