Friday, September 12, 2008
Scientists say that the genetic variance related to height, weight and body fat of humans is wider in Caucasians than in Asians
This suggests that people of different ethnic backgrounds should be treated differently for medical conditions like growth disorders and obesity, Chonnam University's Hur Yoon-mi said. Huh led a team of researchers who studied the data of 3,735 pairs of Caucasian twins from countries such as the United States, Australia, Finland and the Netherlands born between 1975 and 1993 and compared them with the details of 1,584 twins from South Korea, Japan and China born between 1968 and 1994. In both males and females, Caucasian twins in general were taller, weighted more and showed a higher percentage of body fat than their East Asian peers. However, the variability in the measures of height, weight and body mass index (BMI) was also consistently larger among Caucasians. The study also suggested that genetic factors make most of the difference in determining physical features. The researchers found genetic influences greater than environmental factors, such as physical activities and dietary habits, in 91% of the variances in height. Genetic differences were also associated with 86% of the differences in weight. "This is one of the first studies about genetic and environmental factors effect on the differences in height, weight and BMI between Caucasians and Asians," said Huh. "This also shows that the prevention or treatment of growth-related disorders and obesity must differ between Caucasians and Asians," she said.