Background/Aims: The burden of the childhood obesity epidemic is well recognized; nevertheless, the genetic markers and gene-environment interactions associated with the development of common obesity are still unknown. In this study, candidate genes associated to satiety and appetite control pathways with obesity-related traits were tested in Caucasian preschoolers from the STRONG Kids project. Methods: Eight genetic variants in genes related to obesity (BDNF, LEPR, FTO, PCSK1, POMC, TUB, LEP, and MC4R) were genotyped in 128 children from the STRONG Kids project (mean age 39.7 months). Data were analyzed for individual associations and to test for genetic predisposition scores (GPSs) with body mass index (BMI) and anthropometric traits (Z-scores, e.g. height-for-age Z-score, HAZ). Covariates included age, sex, and breastfeeding (BF) duration. Results: Obesity and overweight prevalence was 6.3 and 19.5%, respectively, according to age- and sex-specific BMI percentiles. Individual genetic associations of MC4R and LEPR markers with HAZ were strengthened when BF duration was included as a covariate. Our GPSs show that, as the number of risk alleles increased, the risk of higher BMI and HAZ also increased. Overall, the GPSs assembled were able to explain 2-3% of the variability in BMI and HAZ phenotypes. Conclusion: Genetic associations with common obesity-related phenotypes were found in the STRONG Kids project. GPSs assembled for specific candidate genes were associated with BMI and HAZ phenotypes.

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