Background: The reduced contribution of physical activity (PA) to daily energy expenditure contributes to the increased prevalence of obesity. A genetic control of activity-induced energy expenditure (AEE) may contribute to a genetic susceptibility to obesity.
Objective: Our aim was to investigate the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to the variation and covariation in AEE and PA.
Design: Twelve monozygotic and 8 same-sex dizygotic (including 2 same-sex sibling pairs; age differences: 2 and 2.5 y) twin pairs aged between 18 and 39 y participated. AEE was measured in a respiration chamber for 24 h and with doubly labeled water in daily life for 2 wk. PA was recorded simultaneously with a triaxial accelerometer. Structural equation modeling was used to separate and quantify the observed variance into sex-adjusted additive genetic and common and unique environmental contributions.
Results: In the respiration chamber, common and unique environmental factors explained the variance in AEE and PA, and no genetic contribution was found. In daily life, genetic factors explained 72% of the variance in AEE and 78% of the variance in PA. Unique environmental factors explained the remaining variance. The same additive genetic factors explained 67% of the covariance in AEE and PA in daily life.
Conclusions: In the present exploratory study that used gold standard measurements for AEE and PA but a limited sample size, genetic influence explained a large part of the variation in AEE and PA in daily life, whereas both AEE and PA were influenced by environment only within the confined area of the respiration chamber.