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Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1988;12(1):45-72.

Sensitivity to overfeeding: the Quebec experiment with identical twins.

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Department of Medicine, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Qu├ębec, Canada.


The role of the genotype in the response to short-term overfeeding was assessed by submitted six pairs of male monozygotic twins to a 4.2 MJ (1000 kcal) per day energy intake surplus for a period of 22 consecutive days. Individual differences in fat mass and fat-free mass gains were observed in response to overfeeding but they were not randomly distributed. Indeed, the within-pair resemblance in the response was striking when compared to the heterogeneity found among the pairs in adiposity and fat-free mass gains. The intrapair resemblance in the response to overfeeding as assessed by the intraclass coefficient computed with the individual changes, reached 0.88 for total fat mass and 0.76 for fat-free mass. A similar trend for a genetically determined pattern of adaptation to overfeeding was observed for resting metabolic rate (intraclass = 0.63), thermic effect of a meal (intraclass = 0.62), and energy cost of submaximal exercise (intraclass = 0.78) when the data were analysed in terms of changes in oxygen uptake. On the other hand, no major alterations in glucose and insulin response to a glucose load or a test meal, in cardio-pulmonary adaptation to submaximal exercise and in maximal exercise tolerance were found with overfeeding. In contrast, the response of suprailiac fat cell lipolysis (intraclass of about 0.7) and heparin releasable adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase (intraclass - 0.82) varied among individuals but was highly homogeneous within genotypes. Similarly, a genotype-overfeeding interaction effect was seen for serum triglycerides (intraclass = 0.69), HDL-cholesterol (intraclass = 0.85), and the HDL-cholesterol to total cholesterol ratio (intraclass = 0.82). Multiple correlation analyses suggest that much of the variance in the response of fat mass (R = 0.65) and fat-free mass (R = 0.81) is accounted for by alterations in the energy expenditure components assessed in the study. If one takes into account the measurement errors always present in such complex studies and the fact that only a limited fraction of the energy expenditure of activity was considered by design, one can conclude that the genotype determines to a large extent the response variation to short-term overfeeding. In particular, the genotype-overfeeding interaction effect for body composition changes seems to be mediated by the various energy expenditure components, themselves characterized by significant genotype-overfeeding interaction effects.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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