2007 Volume 26 Issue 1 Pages 9-14
The influence of genetics on human physique and obesity has been addressed by the literature. Evidence for heritability of anthropometric characteristics has been previously described, mainly for the body mass index (BMI). However, few studies have investigated the influence of genetics on the Heath-Carter somatotype. The aim of the present study was to assess the heritability of BMI and somatotype (endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy) in a group of female monozygotic and dizygotic twins from childhood to early adulthood. A total of 28 females aged from 7 to 19 years old were studied. The group included 5 monozygotic and 9 dizygotic pairs of twins. The heritability was assessed by the twin method (h2). The anthropometric measures and somatotype were assessed using standard validated procedures. Significant differences between monozygotic and dizygotic pairs of twins were found for height, endomorphy, ectomorphy, and mesomorphy, and the heritability for these measures was high (h2 between 0.88 and 0.97). No significant differences were found between monozygotic and dizygotic twins for weight, and the BMI and the heritability indexes were lower for these measures (respectively 0.42 and 0.52). The results of the present study have indicated that the somatotype may be more sensible to genetic influences than the BMI in females.