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The Influence of Genetic and Environmental Factors in Estimations of Current Body Size, Desired Body Size, and Body Dissatisfaction

  • Tracey D. Wade (a1), Cynthia M. Bulik (a2), Andrew C. Heath (a3), Nicholas G. Martin (a4) and Lindon J. Eaves (a5)...

Abstract

The objective was to investigate the genetic epidemiology of figural stimuli. Standard figural stimuli were available from 5,325 complete twin pairs: 1,751 (32.9%) were monozygotic females, 1,068 (20.1%) were dizygotic females, 752 (14.1%) were monozygotic males, 495 (9.3%) were dizygotic males, and 1,259 (23.6%) were dizygotic male-female pairs. Univariate twin analyses were used to examine the influences on the individual variation in current body size and ideal body size. These data were analysed separately for men and women in each of five age groups. A factorial analysis of variance, with polychoric correlations between twin pairs as the dependent variable, and age, sex, zygosity, and the three interaction terms (age x sex, age x zygosity, sex x zygosity) as independent variables, was used to examine trends across the whole data set. Results showed genetic influences had the largest impact on the individual variation in current body size measures, whereas non-shared environmental influences were associated with the majority of individual variation in ideal body size. There was a significant main effect of zygosity (heritability) in predicting polychoric correlations for current body size and body dissatisfaction. There was a significant main effect of gender and zygosity in predicting ideal body size, with a gender x zygosity interaction. In common with BMI, heritability is important in influencing the estimation of current body size. Selection of desired body size for both men and women is more strongly influenced by environmental factors.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence Dr Tracey Wade, School of Psychology, Flinders University of South Australia, PO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA, 5001, Australia.

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