Body composition in Aboriginal Australians

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 1995 Mar;4(1):73-6.


The anthropomorphic features of Australian Aborigines have been described, measured and reported in considerable detail by explorers, anthropologists, anatomists and medical practitioners. These reports have provided evidence that some aspects of Aboriginal physique differ considerably from those of Europeans. For example, it has been reported that Australian Aborigines of both sexes have relatively shorter trunks and longer legs than almost every other ethnic group, that body proportions differ less between males and females, and that traditionally Australian Aborigines had a lower weight for stature than Europeans of the same age and sex. Less information exists on their body composition. Available data, however, indicate that there may also be differences in body fat distribution, but not in the amount of fat-free mass (FFM) per unit of stature, between Australian Aborigines and Australians of European origin An analysis of the available data on body composition suggests that the very low body mass index (BMI) values observed in apparently healthy Aborigines, and the different relationship in this ethnic group between BMI and the amount of subcutaneous fat, are more likely to be due to a more central body fat distribution than to differences in skeletal body proportions between Australian Aborigines and Australians of European origin.