The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Body frame variation and adiposity in development, a longitudinal study of 'Cape Coloured' children


Biological Anthropolgy and Comparative Anatomy unit, The University of Adelaide

Saturday 4:30-4:45, Ballroom B Add to calendar

The obesity epidemic is impacting both developed and undeveloped countries worldwide. Obesity and its underlying health concerns are often explained as an imbalance between nutritional intake and energy expenditure. The public campaigning based on this approach – eat less exercise more – has been largely ineffective. Individual variations in food metabolism and energy expenditure are responsible for much of the adiposity present amongst individuals, considerations for which are not included in public health attempts to reduce obesity. A mixed longitudinal growth study had been conducted between 1987 and 1994 among “Cape Coloured” children in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The sample studied here consists of 127 females and 130 males between the ages of 6 and 20 years. The growth of each child was measured between 6 and 9 times. The following anthropometric dimensions, standardised for age: trunk length, elbow width, knee width, bi-acromial and bi-iliocristal diameters correlated significantly (p<0.05, r between 0.087 and 0.511) in both males and females with three skinfolds: triceps, subscapular and abdominal. This means that wider body frame correlates with increased adiposity. The latter supports earlier conclusion (Henneberg and Ulijaszek 2010 Am.J.Hum.Biol. 22:83-91) that the increased size of the abdominal cavity indicating larger gastrointestinal tract is related to greater adiposity. Future preventive obesity interventions should be individualised taking into account body build and, possibly, physiological characteristics of people.

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