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The Effects of Body Mass on Cremation Weight



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 56, Issue 4, 1086, Article first published online: 5 July 2011

  • Presented in part at the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 18–23, 2008, in Washington, DC.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Shannon May, M.A.
Department of Anthropology
250 South Stadium Hall
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996


Abstract:  Cremains have become increasingly frequent in forensic contexts, while higher body mass in the general population has simultaneously made cremation a more cost-effective mortuary practice. This study analyzed the relationship between body mass and bone mass, as reflected through cremation weight. Antemortem data were recorded for samples used in the multi-regional data set. Each was rendered through commercial crematoriums and reweighed postincineration. Pearson’s correlation demonstrates clear association between body mass and cremation weight (r = 0.56; p < 0.0001). However, multiple linear regression revealed sex and age variables also have a significant relationship (t = 7.198; t = −2.5, respectively). Regressed in conjunction, body mass, sex, and age contribute approximately 67% of all variation observed in cremation weight (r = 0.668). Analysis of covariance indicates significant regional variation in body and cremation weight. Explanations include bone modification resulting from increased loading stress, as well as glucose intolerance and altered metabolic pathways related to obesity.