Anthropometric measurements in Australian Aborigines

Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan, Srinivas, Piers, Leonard S., Raghavan, Sidya and O'Dea, Kerin (2012). Anthropometric measurements in Australian Aborigines. In Victor R. Preedy (Ed.), Handbook of anthropometry: physical measures of human form in health and disease (pp. 2593-2614) New York, NY, United States: Springer Science. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-1788-1_161

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Author Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan, Srinivas
Piers, Leonard S.
Raghavan, Sidya
O'Dea, Kerin
Title of chapter Anthropometric measurements in Australian Aborigines
Title of book Handbook of anthropometry: physical measures of human form in health and disease
Place of Publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Springer Science
Publication Year 2012
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-1788-1_161
Year available 2012
ISBN 9781441917874
9781441917881
Editor Victor R. Preedy
Chapter number 161
Start page 2593
End page 2614
Total pages 22
Total chapters 188
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Aborigines have inhabited Australia for many thousands of years. They led a ‘hunter-gatherer’ lifestyle prior to European contact. They are known to have lower sitting-height to stature ratio with long legs, relatively short trunks and narrow across the torso and hips (a ‘linear’ body build). European expeditions in the early twentieth century confirm that overweight and obesity was rarely observed. In the second half of the twentieth century, the traditional lifestyle of Aborigines had transitioned to a westernised lifestyle. Associated with such a transition to western lifestyle is the epidemic of non-communicable chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases and renal failure. Average weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) of Aborigines have increased over time. However, this increase is not uniform across Aboriginal Australia. There are major differences in the body habitus profile between different clan groups/communities. In spite of these variations, the pattern of preferential central obesity in both men and women is uniform in almost all the communities. This could have provided a survival advantage under conditions of traditional lifestyle (with its ‘feast-and-famine’ pattern of food intake) experienced by Aborigines prior to European contact. Our studies have shown that BMI significantly underestimated overweight and obesity when compared to other indices of body fat. Aborigines have preferential central fat deposition and exhibit consistently higher waist-hip ratios when compared to other Australians. Also, prevalences of overweight and obesity depend on the anthropometric definitions used. The relationship of surrogate estimates of body composition such as S4 for subcutaneous fat and height2/resistance for FFM (fat free mass) to body weight and BMI are significantly different between Aboriginal people and European Australians. Even at lower levels of body habitus profiles, Aborigines have increased risk for chronic conditions. Also, anthropometric characteristics differ substantially among different Aboriginal communities and stereotyping and generalisations should be avoided.
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Document type: Book Chapter
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Created: Thu, 04 Apr 2013, 12:25:47 EST by Assoc Professor Srinivas Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan on behalf of Rural Clinical School