Body fat in identical twins reared apart: roles for genes and environment

Behav Genet. 1991 Jan;21(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/BF01067662.


We report analyses of data on body fat from a cohort of 34 separated monozygotic twin pairs (MZA) and a matched sample of 38 pairs of monozygotic twins reared together (MZT) originally studied by James Shields. The correlation for MZA pairs was .61 and the correlation for MZT pairs was .75. These correlations did not differ significantly, nor did correlations differ between MZA pairs subclassified as having been raised in relatively more or less similar environments. Our results suggest important roles for both genes and environment in the accumulation of body fat and support other adoption studies in suggesting that adult environments rather than rearing environments are the most important nongenetic determinants of levels of body fat in adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / genetics*
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Social Environment*
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics