Author(s): Dettwyler KA
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Abstract An anthropometric assessment was conducted of 441 adults from six rural villages in southern Mali. As is typical for human populations, females are shorter and lighter than males. Both females (N = 320) and males (N = 121) are shorter and lighter than their U.S. counterparts. Mean weight in the sample is 53.4 +/- 8.5 kilos for females and 58.8 +/- 6.5 kilos for males. Mean height is 160.4 +/- 5.7 cm for females and 171.3 +/- 6.6 cm for males. The data for height in males are very similar to those reported from other surveys in Mali, and show no evidence for a positive secular trend in height. Mean body mass index (BMI) is 20.8 for females and 20.0 for males. These are lower than U.S. averages, but well above suggested cutoff points for malnutrition in adults. Average arm circumference is 26.5 cm for females and 26.4 cm for males. Females have relatively large arm circumferences due, in part, to the heavy manual labor they perform. Average head circumference is 53.0 cm for females and 54.8 cm for males. For both sexes, these values are more than 1 standard deviation (SD) below the U.S. means. Adult values for anthropometric measurements reflect childhood stresses of malnutrition and disease, and a lifetime of accommodation to a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet, and hard physical labor. Females are significantly closer to the U.S. standards than males for weight, height, BMI, and arm circumference; these findings support the idea that females are buffered from environmental stresses relative to males. In addition, females exhibit significantly more variability than males for weight, arm circumference, and head circumference, but not for height, suggesting that variability in adult height does not reflect the presence or absence of female buffering or the level of environmental adversity.
This article was published in Am J Phys Anthropol
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis