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The purpose of this review is to provide a detailed and updated description of the FinnTwin16 (FT16) study and its future directions. The Finnish Twin Cohort comprises three different cohorts: the Older Twin Cohort established in the 1970s and the FinnTwin12 and FT16 initiated in the 1990s. FT16 was initiated in 1991 to identify the genetic and environmental precursors of alcoholism, but later the scope of the project expanded to studying the determinants of various health-related behaviors and diseases in different stages of life. The main areas addressed are alcohol use and its consequences, smoking, physical activity, overall physical health, eating behaviors and eating disorders, weight development, obesity, life satisfaction and personality. To date, five waves of data collection have been completed and the sixth is now planned. Data from the FT16 cohort have contributed to several hundred studies and many substudies, with more detailed phenotyping and collection of omics data completed or underway. FT16 has also contributed to many national and international collaborations.
This review offers an update on research conducted with FinnTwin12 (FT12), the youngest of the three Finnish Twin Cohorts. FT12 was designed as a two-stage study. In the first stage, we conducted multiwave questionnaire research enrolling all eligible twins born in Finland during 1983–1987 along with their biological parents. In stage 2, we intensively studied a subset of these twins with in-school assessments at age 12 and semistructured poly-diagnostic interviews at age 14. At baseline, parents of intensively studied twins were administered the adult version of the interview. Laboratory studies with repeat interviews, neuropsychological tests, and collection of DNA were made of intensively studied twins during follow-up in early adulthood. The basic aim of the FT12 study design was to obtain information on individual, familial and school/neighborhood risks for substance use/abuse prior to the onset of regular tobacco and alcohol use and then track trajectories of use and abuse and their consequences into adulthood. But the longitudinal assessments were not narrowly limited to this basic aim, and with multiwave, multirater assessments from ages 11 to 12, the study has created a richly informative data set for analyses of gene–environment interactions of both candidate genes and genomewide measures with measured risk-relevant environments. Because 25 years have elapsed since the start of the study, we are planning a fifth-wave follow-up assessment.
Traditionally, personalised nutrition was delivered at an individual level. However, the concept of delivering tailored dietary advice at a group level through the identification of metabotypes or groups of metabolically similar individuals has emerged. Although this approach to personalised nutrition looks promising, further work is needed to examine this concept across a wider population group. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to: (1) identify metabotypes in a European population and (2) develop targeted dietary advice solutions for these metabotypes. Using data from the Food4Me study (n 1607), k-means cluster analysis revealed the presence of three metabolically distinct clusters based on twenty-seven metabolic markers including cholesterol, individual fatty acids and carotenoids. Cluster 2 was identified as a metabolically healthy metabotype as these individuals had the highest Omega-3 Index (6·56 (sd 1·29) %), carotenoids (2·15 (sd 0·71) µm) and lowest total saturated fat levels. On the basis of its fatty acid profile, cluster 1 was characterised as a metabolically unhealthy cluster. Targeted dietary advice solutions were developed per cluster using a decision tree approach. Testing of the approach was performed by comparison with the personalised dietary advice, delivered by nutritionists to Food4Me study participants (n 180). Excellent agreement was observed between the targeted and individualised approaches with an average match of 82 % at the level of delivery of the same dietary message. Future work should ascertain whether this proposed method could be utilised in a healthcare setting, for the rapid and efficient delivery of tailored dietary advice solutions.
Diet is a major modifiable lifestyle factor that may affect the components of the metabolic syndrome. We aimed to investigate the association between relative proportions of macronutrients and the components of the metabolic syndrome in a population of individuals with type 1 diabetes. In all, 791 individuals without nephropathy, with plausible energy intake and known metabolic syndrome status, taking part in the Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy Study were included in the analyses. Dietary data were collected with a diet record. The association between the relative macronutrient intake and the outcome variables were analysed using multivariable nutrient density substitution models. The relative proportions of dietary macronutrients or fatty acids were not associated with the presence of the metabolic syndrome. In men, however, favouring carbohydrates over fats was associated with lower odds of the waist component, whereas favouring either carbohydrates or fats over proteins was associated with lower odds of the blood pressure component of the metabolic syndrome. In women, substituting carbohydrates for fats was associated with lower HDL-cholesterol concentration. Substituting carbohydrates or fats for alcohol or protein was, in men, associated with lower systolic blood pressure. To conclude, the relative distribution of macronutrients may have some relevance for the metabolic syndrome.
Individual response to dietary interventions can be highly variable. The phenotypic characteristics of those who will respond positively to personalised dietary advice are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to compare the phenotypic profiles of differential responders to personalised dietary intervention, with a focus on total circulating cholesterol. Subjects from the Food4Me multi-centre study were classified as responders or non-responders to dietary advice on the basis of the change in cholesterol level from baseline to month 6, with lower and upper quartiles defined as responder and non-responder groups, respectively. There were no significant differences between demographic and anthropometric profiles of the groups. Furthermore, with the exception of alcohol, there was no significant difference in reported dietary intake, at baseline. However, there were marked differences in baseline fatty acid profiles. The responder group had significantly higher levels of stearic acid (18 : 0, P=0·034) and lower levels of palmitic acid (16 : 0, P=0·009). Total MUFA (P=0·016) and total PUFA (P=0·008) also differed between the groups. In a step-wise logistic regression model, age, baseline total cholesterol, glucose, five fatty acids and alcohol intakes were selected as factors that successfully discriminated responders from non-responders, with sensitivity of 82 % and specificity of 83 %. The successful delivery of personalised dietary advice may depend on our ability to identify phenotypes that are responsive. The results demonstrate the potential use of metabolic profiles in identifying response to an intervention and could play an important role in the development of precision nutrition.
To characterise clusters of individuals based on adherence to dietary recommendations and to determine whether changes in Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores in response to a personalised nutrition (PN) intervention varied between clusters.
Food4Me study participants were clustered according to whether their baseline dietary intakes met European dietary recommendations. Changes in HEI scores between baseline and month 6 were compared between clusters and stratified by whether individuals received generalised or PN advice.
Individuals in cluster 1 (C1) met all recommended intakes except for red meat, those in cluster 2 (C2) met two recommendations, and those in cluster 3 (C3) and cluster 4 (C4) met one recommendation each. C1 had higher intakes of white fish, beans and lentils and low-fat dairy products and lower percentage energy intake from SFA (P<0·05). C2 consumed less chips and pizza and fried foods than C3 and C4 (P<0·05). C1 were lighter, had lower BMI and waist circumference than C3 and were more physically active than C4 (P<0·05). More individuals in C4 were smokers and wanted to lose weight than in C1 (P<0·05). Individuals who received PN advice in C4 reported greater improvements in HEI compared with C3 and C1 (P<0·05).
The cluster where the fewest recommendations were met (C4) reported greater improvements in HEI following a 6-month trial of PN whereas there was no difference between clusters for those randomised to the Control, non-personalised dietary intervention.
To characterise participants who dropped out of the Food4Me Proof-of-Principle study.
The Food4Me study was an Internet-based, 6-month, four-arm, randomised controlled trial. The control group received generalised dietary and lifestyle recommendations, whereas participants randomised to three different levels of personalised nutrition (PN) received advice based on dietary, phenotypic and/or genotypic data, respectively (with either more or less frequent feedback).
Seven recruitment sites: UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland and Greece.
Adults aged 18–79 years (n 1607).
A total of 337 (21 %) participants dropped out during the intervention. At baseline, dropouts had higher BMI (0·5 kg/m2; P<0·001). Attrition did not differ significantly between individuals receiving generalised dietary guidelines (Control) and those randomised to PN. Participants were more likely to drop out (OR; 95 % CI) if they received more frequent feedback (1·81; 1·36, 2·41; P<0·001), were female (1·38; 1·06, 1·78; P=0·015), less than 45 years old (2·57; 1·95, 3·39; P<0·001) and obese (2·25; 1·47, 3·43; P<0·001). Attrition was more likely in participants who reported an interest in losing weight (1·53; 1·19, 1·97; P<0·001) or skipping meals (1·75; 1·16, 2·65; P=0·008), and less likely if participants claimed to eat healthily frequently (0·62; 0·45, 0·86; P=0·003).
Attrition did not differ between participants receiving generalised or PN advice but more frequent feedback was related to attrition for those randomised to PN interventions. Better strategies are required to minimise dropouts among younger and obese individuals participating in PN interventions and more frequent feedback may be an unnecessary burden.
Maternal nutrient intake during pregnancy and lactation potentially influences the development of allergic diseases. Cows’ milk allergy (CMA) is often the first manifestation of atopic diseases, but the impact of early nutritional influences on CMA has not been explored. The associations between maternal intakes of folate, folic acid and vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation were addressed in a prospective, population-based birth cohort within the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Study. Mothers of 4921 children during pregnancy and 2940 children during lactation provided information on maternal dietary intake during the 8th month of pregnancy and the 3rd month of lactation using a detailed, validated FFQ. Information on diagnosed CMA in the offspring was obtained from a medical registry as well as queried from the parents. The Finnish food composition database was used to calculate nutrient intake. Logistic regression was applied for statistical analyses. Folate intake and folic acid and vitamin D supplement use were associated with an increased risk of CMA in the offspring, whereas vitamin D intake from foods during pregnancy was associated with a decreased risk of CMA. Thus, maternal nutrient intake during pregnancy and lactation may affect the development of CMA in offspring. Supplementation with folic acid may not be beneficial in terms of CMA development, especially in children of allergic mothers. The association between dietary supplement use and CMA risk can at least partly be explained by increased health-seeking behaviour among more educated mothers who also use more dietary supplements.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
The interplay between the fat mass- and obesity-associated (FTO) gene variants and diet has been implicated in the development of obesity. The aim of the present analysis was to investigate associations between FTO genotype, dietary intakes and anthropometrics among European adults. Participants in the Food4Me randomised controlled trial were genotyped for FTO genotype (rs9939609) and their dietary intakes, and diet quality scores (Healthy Eating Index and PREDIMED-based Mediterranean diet score) were estimated from FFQ. Relationships between FTO genotype, diet and anthropometrics (weight, waist circumference (WC) and BMI) were evaluated at baseline. European adults with the FTO risk genotype had greater WC (AAv. TT: +1·4 cm; P=0·003) and BMI (+0·9 kg/m2; P=0·001) than individuals with no risk alleles. Subjects with the lowest fried food consumption and two copies of the FTO risk variant had on average 1·4 kg/m2 greater BMI (Ptrend=0·028) and 3·1 cm greater WC (Ptrend=0·045) compared with individuals with no copies of the risk allele and with the lowest fried food consumption. However, there was no evidence of interactions between FTO genotype and dietary intakes on BMI and WC, and thus further research is required to confirm or refute these findings.
An efficient and robust method to measure vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) and 25-hydroxy vitamin D2 in dried blood spots (DBS) has been developed and applied in the pan-European multi-centre, internet-based, personalised nutrition intervention study Food4Me. The method includes calibration with blood containing endogenous 25(OH)D3, spotted as DBS and corrected for haematocrit content. The methodology was validated following international standards. The performance characteristics did not reach those of the current gold standard liquid chromatography-MS/MS in plasma for all parameters, but were found to be very suitable for status-level determination under field conditions. DBS sample quality was very high, and 3778 measurements of 25(OH)D3 were obtained from 1465 participants. The study centre and the season within the study centre were very good predictors of 25(OH)D3 levels (P<0·001 for each case). Seasonal effects were modelled by fitting a sine function with a minimum 25(OH)D3 level on 20 January and a maximum on 21 July. The seasonal amplitude varied from centre to centre. The largest difference between winter and summer levels was found in Germany and the smallest in Poland. The model was cross-validated to determine the consistency of the predictions and the performance of the DBS method. The Pearson’s correlation between the measured values and the predicted values was r 0·65, and the sd of their differences was 21·2 nmol/l. This includes the analytical variation and the biological variation within subjects. Overall, DBS obtained by unsupervised sampling of the participants at home was a viable methodology for obtaining vitamin D status information in a large nutritional study.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
The mental well-being of internationally deployed disaster-relief workers has become an issue of concern. The psychological consequences for the relief worker being exposed to trauma and threats have been well documented; however, the role of pre-deployment preparation in supporting mental well-being has not received due attention, despite research indicating the need for it.
This case series examines the experiences of deployed volunteers of one emergency-relief organization. The aim of this research was to identify the participants’ interpretations of the appropriateness of the pre-deployment preparation they had received in light of supporting their mental well-being during and after deployment.
The main research questions were: How appropriate was pre-deployment preparation in supporting mental well-being? What elements were lacking, and what else would be useful?
Using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, thematic, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six deployed volunteers of an international emergency-relief organization. Data were analyzed using content analysis.
The participants in this study regarded the pre-deployment preparation they had received, on the whole, as appropriate in supporting their mental well-being. The seven main themes identified as important and supportive of mental well-being were: (1) realistic expectations, (2) team building and support, (3) self-awareness and self-care, (4) post-deployment support, (5) practical skills and creative solutions, (6) shared values and beliefs, and (7) safety and security. Specific areas identified as lacking within these themes included communication, self-care, post-deployment support, and safety and security.
Themes identified as important for supporting mental well-being in this research largely were consistent with those in previous research. The generally positive experiences of the support received do not reflect results from existing research, where significant shortcomings in worker support have been expressed. However, important elements were also identified as lacking in this specific pre-deployment preparation.
MäkinenTH, MiettinenSM, KernohanWG. Mental Well-being Considerations in Preparation for Disaster Health Care: Learning From Deployment. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(4):110.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
For decades, it has been debated whether high protein intake compromises bone mineralisation, but no long-term randomised trial has investigated this in children. In the family-based, randomised controlled trial DiOGenes (Diet, Obesity and Genes), we examined the effects of dietary protein and glycaemic index (GI) on biomarkers of bone turnover and height in children aged 5–18 years. In two study centres, families with overweight parents were randomly assigned to one of five ad libitum-energy, low-fat (25–30 % energy (E%)) diets for 6 months: low protein/low GI; low protein/high GI; high protein/low GI; high protein/high GI; control. They received dietary instructions and were provided all foods for free. Children, who were eligible and willing to participate, were included in the study. In the present analyses, we included children with data on plasma osteocalcin or urinary N-terminal telopeptide of collagen type I (U-NTx) from baseline and at least one later visit (month 1 or month 6) (n 191 in total, n 67 with data on osteocalcin and n 180 with data on U-NTx). The level of osteocalcin was lower (29·1 ng/ml) in the high-protein/high-GI dietary group than in the low-protein/high-GI dietary group after 6 months of intervention (95 % CI 2·2, 56·1 ng/ml, P= 0·034). The dietary intervention did not affect U-NTx (P= 0·96) or height (P= 0·80). Baseline levels of U-NTx and osteocalcin correlated with changes in height at month 6 across the dietary groups (P< 0·001 and P= 0·001, respectively). The present study does not show any effect of increased protein intake on height or bone resorption in children. However, the difference in the change in the level of osteocalcin between the high-protein/high-GI group and the low-protein/high-GI group warrants further investigation and should be confirmed in other studies.
Dairy products have previously been reported to be associated with beneficial effects on body weight and metabolic risk markers. Moreover, primary data from the Diet, Obesity and Genes (DiOGenes) study indicate a weight-maintaining effect of a high-protein–low-glycaemic index diet. The objective of the present study was to examine putative associations between consumption of dairy proteins and changes in body weight and metabolic risk markers after weight loss in obese and overweight adults. Results were based on secondary analyses of data obtained from overweight and obese adults who completed the DiOGenes study. The study consisted of an 8-week weight-loss phase and a 6-month weight-maintenance (WM) phase, where the subjects were given five different diets varying in protein content and glycaemic index. In the present study, data obtained from all the subjects were pooled. Dairy protein intake was estimated from 3 d dietary records at two time points (week 4 and week 26) during the WM phase. Body weight and metabolic risk markers were determined at baseline (week − 9 to − 11) and before and at the end of the WM phase (week 0 and week 26). Overall, no significant associations were found between consumption of dairy proteins and changes in body weight and metabolic risk markers. However, dairy protein intake tended to be negatively associated with body weight gain (P= 0·08; β = − 0·17), but this was not persistent when controlled for total protein intake, which indicates that dairy protein adds no additional effect to the effect of total protein. Therefore, the present study does not report that dairy proteins are more favourable than other proteins for body weight regulation.
The aim of the present study was to examine the associations between the maternal intake of fatty acids during pregnancy and the risk of preclinical and clinical type 1 diabetes in the offspring. The study included 4887 children with human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-conferred type 1 diabetes susceptibility born during the years 1997–2004 from the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Study. Maternal diet was assessed with a validated FFQ. The offspring were observed at 3- to 12-month intervals for the appearance of type 1 diabetes-associated autoantibodies and development of clinical type 1 diabetes (average follow-up period: 4·6 years (range 0·5–11·5 years)). Altogether, 240 children developed preclinical type 1 diabetes and 112 children developed clinical type 1 diabetes. Piecewise linear log-hazard survival model and Cox proportional-hazards regression were used for statistical analyses. The maternal intake of palmitic acid (hazard ratio (HR) 0·82, 95 % CI 0·67, 0·99) and high consumption of cheese during pregnancy (highest quarter v. intermediate half HR 0·52, 95 % CI 0·31, 0·87) were associated with a decreased risk of clinical type 1 diabetes. The consumption of sour milk products (HR 1·14, 95 % CI 1·02, 1·28), intake of protein from sour milk (HR 1·15, 95 % CI 1·02, 1·29) and intake of fat from fresh milk (HR 1·43, 95 % CI 1·04, 1·96) were associated with an increased risk of preclinical type 1 diabetes, and the intake of low-fat margarines (HR 0·67, 95 % CI 0·49, 0·92) was associated with a decreased risk. No conclusive associations between maternal fatty acid intake or food consumption during pregnancy and the development of type 1 diabetes in the offspring were detected.