Nature versus nurture: Identical twins and bariatric surgery OBESITY SURGERY Hagedorn, J. C., Morton, J. M. 2007; 17 (6): 728-731


Genetics and environment both play a role in weight maintenance. Twin studies may help clarify the influence of nature vs nurture in weight loss. We present the largest U.S. experience with monozygotic (MZ) twins undergoing bariatric surgery.We retrospectively reviewed the charts of four sets of MZ twins who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGBP) surgery and laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (LAGB) placement at three different institutions. BMI and co-morbidities were examined pre- and postoperatively, and laboratory values were recorded.All four sets of twins are female, live together, and have similar professions. Twin cohort 1 had near identical weight loss patterns after open RYGBP surgery in 1996 (preop 146/142 kg; 2 years 82/82; and 10 years 108/107). Twin cohort 1 also both underwent cholecystectomies within the first year postoperatively. Twin cohort 2 underwent laparoscopic RYGBP surgery and also required cholecystectomies in the first postoperative year. Cohort 2 also experienced nearly identical weight loss at 1 year (36.7% vs 37.0% BMI loss). Twin cohort 3 underwent LAGB placement with two different surgeons with differing amounts of weight loss at 6 months (6.5% vs 15.7% BMI loss). Finally, twin cohort 4 underwent laparoscopic RYGBP with 2-year BMI loss of 39% vs 34%. In twin cohort 4, the twin who lost less weight lived apart from her twin and extended family, and her weight loss was less than the twin living with her family.Two sets of MZ twins had identical responses to bariatric surgery. The other two sets of identical twins had differential weight loss results, possibly due to differences in surgical approach and social support. While genetics do exert a strong influence on weight loss and maintenance, this case series demonstrates the potential effect of social support and postoperative management upon postoperative weight loss in the presence of identical genetics.

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