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Assessing the causal impact of adiposity variation on rates of hospital admission: Application of Mendelian randomization

By Audinga-Dea Hazewinkel, Rebecca G Richmond, Kaitlin H Wade, Padraig Dixon

Posted 16 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.14.20153742

We analyze how measures of adiposity - body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR) - causally influence rates of hospital admission. Conventional analyses of this relationship are susceptible to omitted variable bias from variables that jointly influence both hospital admission and adipose status. We implement a novel quasi-Poisson instrumental variable modelsin a Mendelian Randomization framework, identifying causal effects from random perturbations to germline genetic variation. We estimate the individual and joint effects of BMI, WHR, and WHR adjusted for BMI. We also implement multivariable instrumental variable methods in which the causal effect of one exposure is estimated conditionally on the causal effect of another exposure. Data on 310,471 participants and over 550,000 inpatient admissions in the UK Biobank were used to perform one-sample and two-sample Mendelian Randomization analyses. The results supported a causal role of adiposity on hospital admissions, with consistency across all estimates and sensitivity analyses. Point estimates were generally larger than estimates from comparable observational specifications. We observe an attenuation of the BMI effect when adjusting for WHR in the multivariable Mendelian Randomization analyses, suggesting that an adverse fat distribution, rather than a higher BMI itself, may drive the relationship between adiposity and risk of hospital admission.

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