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A twin study of weight loss and metabolic efficiency


OBJECTIVE: To assess the genetic contribution to determinants of therapeutic weight loss in obese female identical twins.

DESIGN: Subjects were studied for 40 days on an inpatient unit in three phases: 7 baseline days; 28 days of weight reduction by a very low calorie diet (1.6 MJ per day); and 5 days after weight reduction.

SUBJECTS: Fourteen pairs of premenopausal obese female identical twins (age: 39.0±1.7 y; body weight (BW): 93.9±21.2 kg; body mass index (BMI): 34.2±7.8 kg/m2).

MEASUREMENTS: Body composition by hydrodensitometry and resting metabolic rate by indirect calorimetry were assessed before and after weight loss.

RESULTS: There was great variability among pairs in loss of weight (5.9–12.4 kg) and body fat (3.1–12.4 kg). By contrast, the intraclass correlation (ICC) within twin pairs was 0.85, P<0.001 for weight and 0.88, P<0.001 for body fat. A measure of metabolic efficiency, calculated as the difference between ‘estimated’ and ‘measured’ energy deficit showed high intrapair correlation (ICC=0.77; P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The high correlation in metabolic efficiency within twin pairs in response to therapeutic weight loss suggests a strong genetic contribution.

International Journal of Obesity (2001) 25, 533–537

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This study was supported in part by grants IGA MZ CR 6-4311-3 from the Czech Ministry of Health, the Danone Institute and RO3-TW-00561-01 from the NIH.

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Hainer, V., Stunkard, A., Kunešová, M. et al. A twin study of weight loss and metabolic efficiency. Int J Obes 25, 533–537 (2001).

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  • obesity
  • twins
  • weight reduction
  • metabolic efficiency
  • resting metabolic rate
  • genetics

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