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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2019 Aug;22(4):220-228. doi: 10.1017/thg.2019.43.

Eating Behaviors in Healthy Young Adult Twin Pairs Discordant for Body Mass Index.

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Obesity Research Unit, Research Program for Clinical and Molecular Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS, Bremen, Germany.
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, FIMM, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Public Health, Finnish Twin Cohort Study, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Endocrinology, Abdominal Center, Obesity Center, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


We aimed to study the eating behavioral traits that associate with body mass index (BMI) among BMI-discordant twin pairs. This cross-sectional study examined self-reported eating behaviors in 134 healthy young adult twin pairs (57 monozygotic [MZ] and 77 same-sex dizygotic [DZ]), of whom 29 MZ and 46 DZ pairs were BMI discordant (BMI difference ≥ 3 kg/m2). In both MZ and DZ BMI-discordant pairs, the heavier co-twins reported being less capable of regulating their food intake optimally than their leaner co-twins, mainly due to 'frequent overeating'. Furthermore, the heavier co-twins reported augmented 'disinhibited eating', 'binge-eating scores' and 'body dissatisfaction'. The twins agreed more frequently that the heavier co-twins (rather than the leaner co-twins) ate more food in general, and more fatty food, in particular. No significant behavioral differences emerged in BMI-concordant twin pairs. Overeating - measured by 'frequent overeating', 'disinhibited eating' and 'binge-eating score' - was the main behavioral trait associated with higher BMI, independent of genotype and shared environment.


Twins; body mass index; disinhibition; eating behavior; obesity; overeating


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