Education can reduce health differences related to genetic risk of obesity

Educational policies may increase or decrease health differences, depending on whether they reinforce or counteract gene-related differences. We investigate whether one such policy affected health differently for people with different genetic backgrounds. We find that the additional education generated by the policy benefited those with higher genetic risk of obesity the most, reducing the gap in unhealthy body size between those in the top and bottom terciles of genetic risk of obesity from 20 to 6 percentage points. Our results challenge the notion of genetic determinism and underscore the role that social policy can have in mitigating possible health differences arising from genetic background.

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