High sitting height ratio (SHR) is a characteristic commonly associated with Inuit morphology. Inuit are described as having short leg lengths and high trunk-to-stature proportions such that cutoffs for obesity derived from European populations may not adequately describe thresholds of disease risk. Further, high SHR may help explain the reduced impact of BMI on metabolic risk factors among Inuit relative to comparison populations. This study investigates the relationship between SHR and body mass index (BMI) in Inuit.
Subjects are 2,168 individuals (837 males and 1,331 females) from 36 Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. Mean age is 42.63 ± 14.86 years in males and 41.71 ± 14.83 years in females. We use linear regression to examine the association between age, sex, height, sitting height, SHR, waist circumference (WC), and BMI. We then evaluate the efficacy of the relative sitting height adjustment as a method of correcting observed BMI to a population-standardized SHR.
Mean BMI is significantly higher than among non-Inuit Canadians. Obesity prevalence is high, particularly among Inuit women. In the regression, only age and WC are significant predictors of BMI. While SHR is significantly greater than that of the US population, there is substantial agreement between overweight and obesity prevalence using observed and corrected BMI.
We find no consistent relationship between SHR and BMI and suggest the unique anthropometric and metabolic profile observed in Inuit arise from factors not yet delineated. More complex anthropometric and imaging studies in Inuit are needed. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.