The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Body Mass in Forensic Anthropology: Can it be Estimated?


Department of Anthropology, North Carolina State University

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2 Add to calendar

Forensic Anthropologists can estimate a decedent’s sex, ancestry, age and stature with a relatively high degree of accuracy. However, in the case of an unidentified decedent the aforementioned biological profile may not be enough information to ascertain their identity. Being able to estimate body mass would allow for additional biological parameters to be used that may assist in the identification of unknown individuals. The aim of this study was to explore if standard measurements taken from the femur can be used to estimate body mass. The sample for this study totaled 159 known individuals (of known age, sex, stature, weight, etc.) from the University of Tennessee forensic database. Males (n=95) and females (n=64) were analyzed separately, which included individuals of all ancestries. Body mass index was calculated according to the Centers for Disease Control equation. Cross-sectional external measures using standard measurements were used to calculate an elliptical model of total subperiosteal area (TA) for subtrochanteric and midshaft AP and ML measures. TA was calculated as:

TA = (AP/2)*(ML/2)

Subtrochanteric shape and midshaft shape ratios were also calculated. The ANOVA results show that there was significant BMI effect on the midshaft ratio, total subtrochanteric periosteal area and total midshaft periosteal area in males (F = 4.67, p-value 0.03; F = 5.13, p-value =0.03; F = 4.79, p-value 0.03, respectively). ANOVA results for females only showed a significant BMI effect for total subperiosteal area (F = 3.84, p-value = 0.05).