Background: Frame size is a description of the supportive structure of the skeleton that is used to adjust for skeletal mass and size in measures of body composition and weight.
Objective: Data from the Fels Longitudinal Study were used to investigate the relation between bicristal, elbow, knee, biacromial, and wrist breadths and measures of total body fat (TBF), fat-free mass (FFM), bone mineral content (BMC), and bone mineral density (BMD) from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Design: The sample consisted of cross-sectional data from 224 white men and 277 white women aged 23-65 y. Multiple regressions were conducted with stature-adjusted measures of body composition and bone mineral status as dependent variables and age and frame size as independent variables.
Results: Frame-size measures were significantly and positively associated with all body-composition and bone mineral measures in bivariate analyses. In both men and women, the significant models explained more of the variance in measures of TBF (R2 = 0.51 and 0.66, respectively) and FFM (R2 = 0.35 and 0.39, respectively) than in measures of BMC (R2 = 0.18 and 0.23, respectively) and BMD (R2 = 0.08 and 0.18, respectively). Bicristal, knee, and wrist breadths were associated with TBF, and biacromial, knee, and wrist breadths were positively associated with FFM. Biacromial breadth was positively associated with BMC and BMD.
Conclusions: Frame size was more closely associated with TBF and FFM than with BMC and BMD. The association between frame size and body composition seems to be more structural than substantive. The relations between frame size and BMC and BMD are weak and apparently not related to body composition.