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A comparison of body mass index and waist-hip ratio in the genomic prediction of obesity associated health risk. MSc/Dip Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis Mini Project

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Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Edinburgh
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2014


Obesity, the abnormal accumulation of fat that that causes a health risk, has become an important concern. There are two main indices of obesity: Body Mass Index (BMI, the most common) and Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR, that reflects better than BMI the health risks). In this project I used Genomic Best Linear Unbiased Predictor (G-BLUP) to predict BMI and WHR within a Croatian population (2159 individuals) and into an independent replication UK population (805 individuals). A GWAS was also conducted using all data to unravel the architecture of the two obesity indices. Results for heritability estimates (with 95% confidence intervals [CI]) were 0.28 (0.14-0.42) and 0.58 (0.36-0.71) for BMI and 0.35 (0.21-0.49) and 0.48 (0.30-0.66) for WHR in the Croatian and UK data respectively. The prediction accuracies of BMI and WHR within the Croatian data were almost identical: 0.10 (0.07-0.14) for BMI and 0.10 (0.07-0.14) for WHR. However, prediction accuracy of WHR dropped when predicting into the UK replication data (0.02 (0.01-0.03)) compared to BMI (0.08 (0.07-0.09)). Our results have demonstrated that assuming the infinitesimal model WHR is as easy to predict as BMI within populations, but more difficult in independent replication studies. This dissimilarity may reflect differences in trait architecture of the two indices.

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