The use of biocultural data in interpreting sex differences in body proportions among rural amazonians
Article first published online: 25 NOV 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 147, Issue 1, pages 113–127, January 2012
How to Cite
Vercellotti, G. and Piperata, B. A. (2012), The use of biocultural data in interpreting sex differences in body proportions among rural amazonians. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 147: 113–127. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21636
- Issue published online: 14 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 25 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 10 OCT 2011
- Manuscript Received: 21 APR 2011
- Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Inc. Grant Number: 6861
- National Science Foundation. Grant Number: BCS 0201936
- body proportions;
- reproductive costs;
Variation in height and body proportions is relatively well-understood at the inter-population level, but less is known about intra-population variation. This study explores intra-population variation in body proportions among 172 (88 female; 84 male) adult rural Amazonians. We test the hypotheses that: (1) stunting is associated with changes in proportions and fatness; (2) the sexes express different proportions in response to similar environmental stress; and (3) female growth is negatively affected by the costs of reproduction. We examined height, sitting height, and total leg length in subsamples based on sex and nutritional status (stunted/nonstunted) in relation to biocultural factors including access to food and healthcare and female reproductive history parameters. Differences in proportions were examined using the Quick-Test (Tsutakawa and Hewett: Biometrics 33 (1977) 215–219); correlation analyses were used to detect associations between anthropometric data and body fatness, and female reproductive history parameters. We found significantly higher rates of stunting among females (X2 = 5.31; P = 0.02; RR = 1.4). Stunted individuals exhibited relatively shorter legs than nonstunted individuals (P = 0.02), although this was not found in within-sex analyses. A significant negative correlation was found between leg length index and fatness (P < 0.01). Lastly, females exhibited relatively shorter legs than males (P = 0.0003) and, among females, height and leg length were significantly positively correlated with age-at-first-birth (P < 0.02) suggesting that adolescent pregnancy may negatively affect growth in this population. Our findings provide insights for the study of intra-population variation in body proportions and highlight the importance of biocultural data in interpreting the pattern of variation observed in living and past populations. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.