Fernandez CI, Montalva N, Arias M, Hevia M, Moraga ML, Flores SV - 47156 N - Am J Hum Biol 2015 ; in press.

Lactase non-persistence and general patterns of dairy intake in indigenous and mestizo chilean populations

OBJECTIVES: Lactase persistence (LP) is a genetic trait that has been studied among different countries and ethnic groups. In Latin America, the frequencies of this trait have been shown to vary according to the degree of admixture of the populations. The objective of this study is to better understand the relationship between this genetic trait and dairy intake in a multiethnic context through a synthesis of studies conducted in four regions of Chile.

METHODS: Genotypes frequencies for the SNP LCT-13910C>T (rs4988235) and frequency of dairy consumption were obtained from four populations: Polynesians from Easter Island (Rapanui); Amerindians (Mapuche) and Mestizos from the Araucania region; urban Mestizos from Santiago; and rural Mestizos from the Coquimbo region. Genetic differentiation and association between milk consumption and genotype frequencies were estimated.

RESULTS: Genetic differentiation between Native and Mestizo populations was significant; the LP frequency in Mapuche and Rapanui was 10% and 25%, respectively, whereas among the Mestizos, LP frequency was near 40%. Dairy intake was below the nutritional recommendations for the four groups, and extremely below recommendations among the indigenous populations. Association between milk intake and LP was found in Santiago and Rapanui populations.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the frequency of LP varies among the populations according to their degree of admixture, dairy consumption was very low across the populations. Given that the association between milk consumption and expected phenotype was found only in two of the populations analyzed, it seems that lactase non-persistence (LNP) is not the only cause for dairy avoidance. Thus, it is suggested that SES and cultural preferences are likely affecting dairy consumption.