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The ACP1*A allele of erythrocyte acid phosphatase (ACPI) has a lower enzymatic activity when compared to other ACPI alleles and is associated with maximal rate of body growth during intrauterine life. In three different samples of obese subjects (total num ber = 218). ACP1*A was associated with extreme body mass deviations. No difference in ACPI allele distribution was observed between obese and nonobese subjects. These data suggest that a genetically determined variability of ACPI influences the degree of obesity, but only when obesity itself has been triggered by some other factors.