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Zygosity Differences in Height and Body Mass Index of Twins From Infancy to Old Age: A Study of the CODATwins Project

  • Aline Jelenkovic (a1) (a2), Yoshie Yokoyama (a3), Reijo Sund (a1), Chika Honda (a4), Leonie H Bogl (a5), Sari Aaltonen (a1) (a5), Fuling Ji (a6), Feng Ning (a6), Zengchang Pang (a6), Juan R. Ordoñana (a7) (a8), Juan F. Sánchez-Romera (a8) (a9), Lucia Colodro-Conde (a7) (a10), S. Alexandra Burt (a11), Kelly L. Klump (a11), Sarah E. Medland (a10), Grant W. Montgomery (a10), Christian Kandler (a12), Tom A. McAdams (a13), Thalia C. Eley (a13), Alice M. Gregory (a14), Kimberly J. Saudino (a15), Lise Dubois (a16), Michel Boivin (a17) (a18), Adam D. Tarnoki (a19), David L. Tarnoki (a19), Claire M. A. Haworth (a20), Robert Plomin (a13), Sevgi Y. Öncel (a21), Fazil Aliev (a22) (a23), Maria A. Stazi (a24), Corrado Fagnani (a24), Cristina D’Ippolito (a24), Jeffrey M. Craig (a25) (a26), Richard Saffery (a25) (a26), Sisira H. Siribaddana (a27) (a28), Matthew Hotopf (a29), Athula Sumathipala (a27) (a30), Fruhling Rijsdijk (a13), Timothy Spector (a31), Massimo Mangino (a31), Genevieve Lachance (a31), Margaret Gatz (a32) (a33), David A. Butler (a34), Gombojav Bayasgalan (a35), Danshiitsoodol Narandalai (a35) (a36), Duarte L Freitas (a37), José Antonio Maia (a38), K. Paige Harden (a39), Elliot M. Tucker-Drob (a39), Bia Kim (a40), Youngsook Chong (a40), Changhee Hong (a40), Hyun Jung Shin (a40), Kaare Christensen (a41) (a42), Axel Skytthe (a41), Kirsten O. Kyvik (a43) (a44), Catherine A. Derom (a45), Robert F. Vlietinck (a45), Ruth J. F. Loos (a46), Wendy Cozen (a47) (a48), Amie E. Hwang (a47), Thomas M. Mack (a47) (a48), Mingguang He (a49) (a50), Xiaohu Ding (a49), Billy Chang (a49), Judy L. Silberg (a51), Lindon J. Eaves (a51), Hermine H. Maes (a52), Tessa L. Cutler (a53), John L. Hopper (a53) (a54), Kelly Aujard (a55), Patrik K. E. Magnusson (a33), Nancy L. Pedersen (a33), Anna K. Dahl Aslan (a33) (a56), Yun-Mi Song (a57), Sarah Yang (a54) (a58), Kayoung Lee (a59), Laura A. Baker (a32), Catherine Tuvblad (a32) (a60), Morten Bjerregaard-Andersen (a61) (a62) (a63), Henning Beck-Nielsen (a63), Morten Sodemann (a64), Kauko Heikkilä (a5), Qihua Tan (a65), Dongfeng Zhang (a66), Gary E. Swan (a67), Ruth Krasnow (a68), Kerry L. Jang (a69), Ariel Knafo-Noam (a70), David Mankuta (a71), Lior Abramson (a70), Paul Lichtenstein (a33), Robert F. Krueger (a72), Matt McGue (a72), Shandell Pahlen (a72), Per Tynelius (a73), Glen E. Duncan (a74), Dedra Buchwald (a74), Robin P. Corley (a75), Brooke M. Huibregtse (a75), Tracy L. Nelson (a76), Keith E. Whitfield (a77), Carol E. Franz (a78), William S. Kremen (a78) (a79), Michael J. Lyons (a80), Syuichi Ooki (a81), Ingunn Brandt (a82), Thomas Sevenius Nilsen (a82), Fujio Inui (a4) (a83), Mikio Watanabe (a4), Meike Bartels (a84), Toos C. E. M. van Beijsterveldt (a84), Jane Wardle (a85), Clare H. Llewellyn (a85), Abigail Fisher (a85), Esther Rebato (a2), Nicholas G. Martin (a10), Yoshinori Iwatani (a4), Kazuo Hayakawa (a4), Joohon Sung (a54) (a58), Jennifer R. Harris (a82), Gonneke Willemsen (a84), Andreas Busjahn (a86), Jack H. Goldberg (a87), Finn Rasmussen (a73), Yoon-Mi Hur (a88), Dorret I. Boomsma (a84), Thorkild I. A. Sørensen (a20) (a89) (a90), Jaakko Kaprio (a5) (a91) (a92) and Karri Silventoinen (a1) (a4)...


A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.


Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Aline Jelenkovic, Population Research Unit, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, PO Box 18, FIN-00014, Helsinki, Finland. E-mail:


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