Zygosity differences in height and body mass index of twins from infancy to old age: A study of the CODATwins project

Jelenkovic, Aline; Gregory, Alice M. and et al.. 2015. Zygosity differences in height and body mass index of twins from infancy to old age: A study of the CODATwins project. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 18(5), pp. 557-570. ISSN 1832-4274 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

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.

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This study was conducted within the CODATwins project (Academy of Finland #266592). Support for participating twin projects: The University of Southern California Twin Study is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH58354). The Carolina African-American Twin Study of Aging (CAATSA) was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (grant 1RO1-AG13662-01A2) to K. E. Whitfield. The NAS-NRC Twin Registry acknowledges financial support from the National Institutes of Health (grant No. R21 AG039572). Waves 1–3 of Genesis 12–19 were funded by the W T Grant Foundation, the University of London Central Research fund, and a Medical Research Council Training Fellowship (G81/343) and Career Development Award (G120/635) to Thalia C. Eley. Wave 4 was supported by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council (RES-000-22-2206) and the Institute of Social Psychiatry (06/07-11) to Alice M. Gregory, who was also supported at that time by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (RF/2/RFG/2008/0145). Wave 5 was supported by funding to Alice M. Gregory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Anthropometric measurements of the Hungarian twins were supported by Medexpert Ltd., Budapest, Hungary. South Korea Twin Registry is supported by National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-371-2011-1 B00047). Danish Twin Registry is supported by the National Program for Research Infrastructure 2007 from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, The Research Council for Health and Disease, the Velux Foundation, and the US National Institute of Health (P01 AG08761). Since its origin, the East Flanders Prospective Survey has been partly supported by grants from the Fund of Scientific Research, Flanders and Twins, a non-profit Association for Scientific Research in Multiple Births (Belgium). Korean Twin-Family Register was supported by the Global Research Network Program of the National Research Foundation (NRF 2011-220-E00006). Colorado Twin Registry is funded by NIDA center grant DA011015, and Longitudinal Twin Study HD10333. Author Brooke M. Huibregtse is supported by 5T32DA017637-10. Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging was supported by National Institute of Health grants NIA R01 AG018384, R01 AG018386, R01 AG022381, and R01 AG022982, and, in part, with resources of the VA San Diego Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health. The Cooperative Studies Program of the Office of Research & Development of the US Department of Veterans Affairs has provided financial support for the development and maintenance of the Vietnam Era Twin (VET) Registry. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIA/NIH, or VA. The Australian Twin Registry is supported by the Centre of Research Excellence (grant ID 1079102) from the National Health and Medical Research Council administered by the University of Melbourne. The Michigan State University Twin Registry has been supported by Michigan State University as well as grants R01-MH081813, R01-MH0820-54, R01-MH092377-02, R21-MH070542-01, and R03-MH63851-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), R01-HD066040 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and 11-SPG-2518 from the MSU Foundation. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIMH, NICHD, or the National Institutes of Health. California Twin Program was supported by The California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (7RT-0134H, 8RT-0107H, and 6RT-0354H) and the National Institutes of Health (1R01ESO15150-01). Guangzhou Twin Eye Study is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant #81125007). PETS was supported by grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (grant Nos. 437015 and 607358 to Jeffrey M Craig, and Richard Saffery), the Bonnie Babes Foundation (grant No. BBF20704 to Jeffrey M. Craig), the Financial Markets Foundation for Children (grant No. 032-2007 to Jeffrey M. Craig), and by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support Program. Data collection and analyses in Finnish twin cohorts have been supported by ENGAGE — European Network for Genetic and Genomic Epidemiology, FP7-HEALTH-F4-2007, grant agreement No. 201413, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grants AA-12502, AA-00145, and AA-09203 to R J Rose, the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in Complex Disease Genetics (grant Nos. 213506 and 129680), and the Academy of Finland (grants 100499, 205585, 118555, 141054, 265240, 263278, and 264146 to J Kaprio). K Silventoinen is supported by Osaka University's International Joint Research Promotion Program. S.Y. Öncel and F. Aliev are supported by Kırıkkale University Research Grant: KKU, 2009/43 and TUBITAK grant 114C117. Longitudinal Israeli Study of Twins was funded by the Starting grant No. 240994 from the European Research Council (ERC) to Ariel Knafo. Data collection and research stemming from the Norwegian Twin Registry is supported, in part, by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programmes ENGAGE Consortium (grant agreement HEALTH-F4-2007-201413, and BioSHaRE EU (grant agreement HEALTH-F4-2010-261433). The Murcia Twin Registry is supported by the Seneca Foundation, Regional Agency for Science and Technology, Murcia, Spain (08633/PHCS/08 and 15302/PHCS/10) and Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain (PSI11560-2009). The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) is supported by a program grant (G0901245) from the UK Medical Research Council, and the work on obesity in TEDS is supported, in part, by a grant from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (31/D19086). Madeira data comes from the following project: Genetic and environmental influences on physical activity, fitness and health: the Madeira family study project reference: POCI/DES/56834/2004 founded by the Portuguese agency for research (The Foundation for Science and Technology [FCT]). The Boston University Twin Project is funded by grants (Nos. R01 HD068435 and R01 MH062375) from the National Institutes of Health to K. Saudino. TwinsUK was funded by the Wellcome Trust; European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013). The study also receives support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) BioResource Clinical Research Facility and Biomedical Research Centre based at Guy's and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London. University of Washington Twin Registry was supported by the grant NIH RC2 HL103416 (D. Buchwald, PI). Netherlands Twin Register acknowledges the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and MagW/ZonMW grants 904-61-090, 985-10-002, 912-10-020, 904-61-193, 480-04-004, 463-06-001, 451-04-034, 400-05-717, Addiction-31160008, Middelgroot-911-09-032, Spinozapremie 56-464-14192, VU University's Institute for Health and Care Research (EMGO+), the ERC (ERC-230374), and the Avera Institute, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (USA). Gemini was supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK (C1418/A7974). The West Japan Twins and Higher Order Multiple Births Registry was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (grant No. 15H05105) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The Quebec Newborn Twin Study acknowledges financial support from the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the National Health Research Development Program, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Sainte-Justine Hospital's Research Center, and the Canada Research Chair Program (Michel Boivin).


twins; height; BMI; zygosity differences

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October 2015Published

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28 Aug 2015 09:24

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30 Jan 2018 13:44

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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