This study uses data from the Framingham Heart Study to examine the relevance of the gene-environment interaction paradigm for genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We use completed college education as our environmental measure and estimate the interactive effect of genotype and education on body mass index (BMI) using 260,402 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Our results highlight the sensitivity of parameter estimates obtained from GWAS models and the difficulty of framing genome-wide results using the existing gene-environment interaction typology. We argue that SNP-environment interactions across the human genome are not likely to provide consistent evidence regarding genetic influences on health that differ by environment. Nevertheless, genome-wide data contain rich information about individual respondents, and we demonstrate the utility of this type of data. We highlight the fact that GWAS is just one use of genome-wide data, and we encourage demographers to develop methods that incorporate this vast amount of information from respondents into their analyses.

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