• obesity;
  • body weight;
  • morphometrics;
  • condition;
  • rating scales;
  • field methods;
  • rhesus monkey;
  • Macaca mulatta


A procedure is described for designing simple obesity rating scales for use with free-ranging rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Ratings are based on observers' judgments of degree of overall obesity of individual monkeys. The procedure was tested separately on samples of males and females over 2 successive years. Within each of these four samples, observers' judgments were both highly reliable and highly correlated with actual measures of body weight and with estimates of body fat based on morphometric measures, including the Quetelet index. To test the degree to which scores from different applications of the scale could be compared with one another, regression functions were calculated for scale vs. the Quetelet index and for scale vs. body weight for each application. No significant differences were found among the four regression functions for scale vs. the Quetelet index for fully grown adult monkeys. This suggested that observers' judgment criteria with regard to this measure were sufficiently stable across the four test applications to allow meaningful comparison of scores. Comparable analyses for body weight suggested that observers' judgment criteria were stable over time but not between sexes. These data suggest that observers had been successful in attending more closely to obesity than to body weight. Obesity scales have many potential uses both in the field and in captivity provided they are adequately tested before use.