, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 340-347

Genetic and Environmental Correlations Between Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference in China: The Qingdao Adolescent Twin Study

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Abstract

We aimed to analyze how genetic and environmental factors account for variations in body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and their mutual correlation in Chinese children. We measured BMI and WC in 588 pairs of twins (53 % monozygotic twins) aged 8–17 years and applied structural equation modeling to the data. For the younger children (8–12 years of age), heritability estimates of BMI were 0.56 for boys and 0.69 for girls; for the older children (13–17 years of age), the corresponding figures were 0.64 and 0.71, respectively. We observed moderate heritability estimates in WC: the corresponding figures were 0.24 and 0.56 for the younger children, and 0.27 and 0.33 for the older children, respectively. The heterogeneity test for genetic variance of BMI and WC was statistically significant between the two age groups for both sexes (p < 0.001). The proportions of BMI and WC variations due to shared and non-shared environmental factors remained stable during childhood in both sexes. Bivariate genetic analyses showed that genetic correlations between BMI and WC were strong for the younger children (rg = 0.75 for boys, rg = 0.98 for girls) and the older children (rg = 1.0 for both boys and girls). Both sexes showed moderate non-shared environmental correlations in the two age groups, whereas shared environmental correlations––except among male younger children––were not statistically significant. Genetic factors play an important role in variations in BMI and WC during childhood. Common genetic and non-shared environmental factors explained most of the association between BMI and WC for both boys and girls.

Edited by Yoon-Mi Hur