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Mood disorders and adiposity are major public health challenges. Few studies have investigated the bidirectional association of weight and waist circumference (WC) change with psychological distress in middle age, while taking into account the potential U-shape of the association. The aim of this study was to examine the bidirectional association between psychological distress and categorical change in objectively measured weight and WC.
We analysed repeated measures (up to 17 522 person-observations in adjusted analyses) of psychological distress, weight and WC from the Whitehall II cohort. Participants were recruited at age 35–55 and 67% male. Psychological distress was assessed using the General Health Questionnaire. We used random-effects regressions to model the association between weight and WC changes and psychological distress, with and without a 5-year lag period.
Psychological distress was associated with weight and WC gain over the subsequent 5 years but not the second 5-year period. Weight gain and loss were associated with increased odds for incident psychological distress in models with and without time-lag [odds ratio (OR) for incident psychological distress after 5-year time-lag: loss 1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00–1.43; gain>5% 1.20, 95% CI 1.02–1.40]. WC changes were only associated with psychological distress in models without time-lag (OR for incident psychological distress: loss 1.29, 95% CI 1.02–1.64; gain>5% 1.33, 95% CI 1.11–1.58).
Weight gain and loss increase the odds for psychological distress compared with stable weight over subsequent 10 years. In contrast, the association between psychological distress and subsequent weight and WC changes was limited to the first 5 years of follow-up.
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
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.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
Gemini is a cohort study of young twins in the United Kingdom designed to assess genetic and environmental influences on early childhood weight trajectories with a focus on infant appetite and the family environment. A total of 2402 families with twins born in England and Wales between March and December 2007 agreed to participate and returned completed baseline questionnaires. The sample includes 1586 same-sex and 816 opposite-sex twins. The study is currently funded for 5 years of follow-up, but is planned to continue into early adolescence and beyond, pending funding. With current funding of the study, families will be followed up when twins are: 8 months old (baseline), and then at 15, 20, 24, 36 and 48 months of age. Gemini is in its early stages, with baseline and first follow-up data collection completed. This is the first twin cohort to focus on childhood weight gain with detailed and repeated measures of children's appetite, food preferences, activity behavior and parental feeding styles, alongside detailed and repeated collection of anthropometrics. This article reviews the rationale for the Gemini study, its representativeness and the main measures.
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