Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Body Structure of Eighteen-Year-Old Conscripts Assessed by Anthropometry and Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Body Structure of Eighteen-Year-Old Conscripts Assessed by Anthropometry and Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry

Article excerpt

We conducted an anthropometric study of 1123 conscripts aged 18 years from the town of Tartu and Tartu county . Height and weight, 33 anthropometric variables and 12 skinfolds were measured, body fat percentage was assessed by Omron®BF 300 hand-held segmental body fat analyzer. The data were systematized into five height-weight SD-classes, namely: 1 - small (small height and small weight), 2 - medium (medium height and medium weight), 3 - large (large height and large weight), 4 - weight class dominating and 5 - height class dominating. In classes 1, 2, and 3 the height and weight increase corresponded with increase in all heights, breadths and depths, circumferences, skinfolds, body fat, muscle and bone mass. In class 4 circumferences, skintblds, body fat and muscle mass were bigger. In class 5 all heights as well as the absolute and the relative bone masses were bigger. The systematization of subjects into five classes is valid also for the body composition data assessed by double-energy x-ray absorptiomctry. Some comparisons are made with studies of youths in neighboring countries

Key Words: Somatype; anthropometry; X-ray absorbtiometry; height; weight; skin thickness; body fat; body mass; Estonian conscripts.


The human constitution has been and remains a subject of interest to investigators in physical anthropology, clinical medicine, epidemiology, health promotion and physical education and sports sciences.

Numerous different methods have been applied for the purpose of characterizing the human body as a whole. Hippocrates in the 5th century BC divided human bodies into two classes: habitus phthisicus (tall and thin) and habitus apoplecticus (short and thick). In the 19th and 20th centuries a number of scientists classified human bodies into three classes (reviews of Tucker, Lessa 1940; Conrad 1941; Albonico 1970). In Eastern Europe Kretschmer's (Kretschmer 1922) leptosome, athletic and pycnic are well-known terms. More recently the terms leptomorphic, metromorphic and pyknomorphic have come into use (Greil 1997).

In the English-speaking academic world, the somalotype technique introduced by Sheldon (Shcldon, Stevens, Tucker 1940) and modified by Cureton (Cureton 1947), Tanner (Tanner 1951), Parnell (Parnell 1954; Parnell 1958), Damon (Damon, Bleibtreu Elliot, Giles 1962), Petersen (Pctersen 1967), Ostyn et al (Ostyn, Simons, Beunen, Renson, Van Gerven 1980) and Heath and Carter (Heath, Carter 1967; Carter, Heath 1990) is retaining popularity. In this system, three components of body build - endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy - are assessed on a point-score scale system in every subject. The Heath-Carter method uses anthropometric measurements for assessment ofsomatotype instead of photoscopic ratings and has opened up the scales. (Heath, Carter 1967; Carter, Heath 1990).

The Centre for Physical Anthropology at the University of Tartu has investigated the body structure of young women (Kaarma 1981, 1995) and concluded that body structure is a well-correlated system in which the leading variables are height and weight. Kaarma 1981, 1995; Saluvere Peterson, Saluste, Koskel 1998; Maiste, Kaarma, Thetloff 1999; Veldre, Stamm, Koskel 2002) recommended classifying body build, using 3x3 or. 5x5 height and weight mean value and standard deviation (SD) classes, in a five-class system. This five-class model of systematizatiori was applied in a study of 15-18-year-old girls (Peterson, Saluvere 1998; Saluvere, Peterson, Saluste, Koskel 1998; Maiste, Kaarma, Thetloff 1999). Using this model it is possible to systematize the other body measurements, body proportions and even characteristics of body composition. In a recent work it was shown that this model of classification is also appropriate for young pregnant women (Kaarma, Kasmel, Peterson, Veldre 2001).

The five classes of body build systematization of males was first applied in a study of Tartu Estonian school-leaving boys (Lintsi 1999; Lintsi, Kaarma, Saluste, Vasar 2002). …

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