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Genetic determinants of sports participation and daily physical activity


OBJECTIVE: The purpose is to review the existing literature on genetic determinants of sports participation, daily physical activity (PA) resting metabolic rate (RMR) and activity as a temperamental trait.

DESIGN: A synthesis will be given of the published material on this topic with special focus on twin and family data, and association and linkage studies.

MEASUREMENTS: Self reported sports participation, daily PA, RMR and activity as a temperamental trait.

ANALYSIS: Transmission and heritability coefficients calculated from twin and family data will be reported.

RESULTS: The reported heritability coefficients for sports participation vary between 0.35–0.83, and those for daily PA between 0.29–0.62. If one of the parents or co-twins is active in sports, it is more likely that the child or co-twin is also active in sports (odds ratios (ORs) vary from 1.2–5.8). Twin and parent-child correlations for RMR also indicate a moderate genetic effect. At present, only a linkage between RMR and uncoupling protein 2 markers has been demonstrated.

CONCLUSION: The genetic determination of sports participation, daily PA and RMR, varies from low to moderately high, and only between the uncoupling protein 2 genetic marker and RMR has a linkage has been demonstrated.

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Beunen, G., Thomis, M. Genetic determinants of sports participation and daily physical activity. Int J Obes 23 (Suppl 3), S55–S63 (1999).

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  • physical activity
  • resting metabolic rate
  • family and twin studies
  • heritability
  • genetic variation
  • environmental variation
  • linkage
  • sports participation
  • temperament

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