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

Body Mass Estimation from Pelvic and Femoral Variation Among Modern British Women of Known Mass


1PAVE Research Group, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, 2Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2 Add to calendar

Femoral head diameter is commonly used to estimate body mass from the skeleton. The three most frequently employed methods, designed by Ruff, Grine, and McHenry respectively, were developed using different populations to address different research questions. They were not specifically designed for application to female remains, and their accuracy for this purpose has rarely been assessed or compared in living populations. This study analyzes the accuracy of these methods using a sample of modern British women through the use of pelvic CT scans (n=97) and corresponding information about the individuals’ known height and weight.

Results showed that all methods provided reasonably accurate body mass estimates (average percent prediction errors under 20%) for the normal weight and overweight subsamples, but were inaccurate for the obese and underweight subsamples (average percent prediction errors over 20%). When women of all body mass categories were combined, the methods provided reasonable estimates (average percent prediction errors between16-18%). The results demonstrate that different methods provide more accurate results within specific BMI ranges. The McHenry Method provided the most accurate estimation for women of small body size, while the Original Ruff method is most likely to be accurate if the individual was obese or severely obese. The Refined Ruff Method was the most accurate predictor of body mass on average for the entire sample, indicating that it should be utilized when there is no knowledge of the individual’s body size or if the individual is assumed to be of a normal body size.