Relations between Incidence of Specific Diseases and Body Build of Young Women

By Peterson, Jane; Kaarma, Helje et al. | Mankind Quarterly, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Relations between Incidence of Specific Diseases and Body Build of Young Women


Peterson, Jane, Kaarma, Helje, Koskel, Säde, Mankind Quarterly


The paper studies the relations between the body build of women between the ages of 17 and 23 (university entrants, first-and second-year students, n = 724) and the diseases affecting them. The subjects' weight, height and 40 anthropometric variables were measured, from which seven indices of body composition were calculated. Individual anthropometric characteristics were systematized into a SD classification of five classes - small, medium, large, pycnomorphous and leptomorphous. The subjects were interviewed about eight main groups of disease to find the specific diseases they had suffered from and the total number of cases (n = 1270). Incidence of diseases was assessed in the body build classes into which the subjects had been classified according to their anthropometric data. We found that pycnomorphous and leptomorphous young women were affected by cardiovascular, urological, surgical and otorhinolaryngologic diseases statistically significantly more often. When checking the number of subjects who had been affected by one to four or more diseases, the same tendency appeared: in the classes of pycnomorphs and leptomorphs incidence of diseases was significantly higher than in other classes.

Such results hint at a constitutional peculiarity and that suggest that height and weight and concordance or disconcordance between them may have an essential influence on young women's health.

Key Words: young women, anthropometry, body build, height-weight classes, incidence of Cardiovascular diseases, Pulmonological diseases, Gatrointestinal diseases, Urological diseases, Surgical diseases, Dermatological diseases, Opthalmological diseases, and Otorhinolaryngological diseases.

Introduction

Specialist literature in Estonia is paying increasing attention to relations between anthropometric peculiarities and health (Kaarma and Raud 1977; Kaarma et al. 1998, 1999, 2001; Kask 1998; Maiste 1999; Peterson and Koskel 2000). For broader application of such studies in health promotion and medicine, a classification is needed which would facilitate simultaneous systematization of a great number of anthropometric and health variables.

The Centre for Physical Anthropology at the University of Tartu has been engaged in studies of body anthropometric structure for a long time (Kaarma 1981, 1995; Kaarma et al. 1997). The samples studied include schoolgirls aged 7-18 (Maiste et al. 1999; Veldre et al. 2002; Kasmel et al. 2004), young women (Kaarma et al. 1996, 2000), schoolboys aged 17-18 and conscripts (Lintsi et al. 2002; Lintsi and Kaarma 2003).

Our research has confirmed that in all the age groups studied, the anthropometric structure of body build consists of a number of mutually statistically significantly related measurements where the leading variables are height and weight. By classifying the anthropometric variables of different samples into a 5 SD classification, we have managed to systematize all length, breadth and depth measurements, circumferences, indices and body composition characteristics.

The aim of the present paper is to study how this classification could be applied to young women aged 17-23 years (university entrants as well as first- and second-year students) and to find whether the classification could be used for assessment of incidence of diseases from which they have suffered. This is the first time we present a paper on the relation between body build and incidence of diseases in an international publication.

Material and Methods

Subjects

The sample under study consisted of 724 young women aged 17-23 years. They were entrants to the University of Tartu and its first- or second-year students.

Measurement Procedures:

1. Anthropometric Research

All the subjects were measured by Martin's classical method (Martin 1928) by the first author of the paper, Jana Peterson, at the Health Centre of the University of Tartu.

Weight and 48 other anthropometric measurements were taken: 8 length measurements, 10 breadth and depth measurements, 18 circumferences and 10 skinfolds. …

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