Body frame dimensions are related to obesity and fatness: Lean trunk size, skinfolds, and body mass index



We explore relationships between BMI and skinfolds and anthropometric variables reflecting variation in lean body frame. Data on the middle class adult Australian women (n = 1260) collected in 2002 during a National Body Size and Shape Survey were used. Standard measurements of stature, weight, skeletal dimensions (shoulder width, hip width, chest width, and depth, limb lengths), circumferences of head, trunk, limbs and triceps, subscapular and abdominal skinfolds were taken. Techniques for measurements of skeletal frame minimized the inclusion of adipose tissue thickness. Analysis of variance and parametric and nonparametric correlations were used. Vertical dimensions show weak correlations with fatness, while body frame circumferences and transverse dimensions are consistently, significantly, and substantially correlated with fatness, each explaining from 3 to 44% of variation in skinfold thickness. Skeletal dimensions explain up to 50% of variation in skinfold thickness (multiple regression). Especially high correlations with skinfold thickness occur for chest width, depth, and hip width (r range from 0.42 to 0.66). Body frame dimensions reflect largely trunk volume and the trunk/limb proportions. Larger lean trunk size is associated with greater fatness. Since the size of the abdominal cavity, and thus the gastrointestinal system (GI), is reflected in the trunk size, we speculate that larger frame may predispose to obesity in two ways: (1) larger stomachs require greater bulk of food to produce feeling of satiety as mediated through antral distension, (2) larger GIs may absorb more nutrients. Frame size may help to detect the risk of obesity among young adults. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.