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Abstract

To compare body size measurements in Australian Aboriginals living in three remote communities in the Northern Territory of Australia with those of the general Australian population. Height, weight, waist and hip circumferences and derivative values of body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR), waist-height ratio (WHT), and waist-weight ratios (WWT) of adult Aboriginal volunteers (n = 814), aged 25 to 74 years were compared with participants in the nationally representative ‘AusDiab’ survey (n = 10,434). The Aboriginal body habitus profiles differed considerably from the Australian profile. When compared to Australian females, Aboriginal females were taller and had lower hip circumference but had higher WC, WHR, WHT, and WWT (P < 0.01 for all). When compared with their Australian counterparts, Aboriginal males were shorter, had lower body weight, WC, hip circumference, BMI, and WHT but had higher WHR and WWT (P < 0.001 for all). Significantly more Aboriginal females were classified as overweight and or obese using cutoffs defined by WC and by WHR than by BMI. Aboriginal males were less often overweight and/or obese by BMI than their counterparts, but were significantly more often overweight or obese by WHR. There were significant variations in body size profiles between Aboriginal communities. However, the theme of excess waist measurements relative to their weight was uniform. Aboriginal people had preferential central fat deposition in relation to their overall weight. BMI significantly underestimated overweight and obesity as assessed by waist measurements among Aboriginals. This relationship of preferential central fat deposition to the current epidemic of chronic diseases needs to be explored further. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.