Background: Body composition measure by anthropometric parameters permits the detection of populations at risk of developing diseases with greater impact in public health and provides standard values of normality of nutritional state.
Methods: A prospective transversal study was carried out with a randomly selected sample of 6,445 individuals taken from 25,279 workers evaluated in Safety and Hygiene Centers during 1990. Chronically ill patients were excluded with 5,019 healthy individuals between 16 and 65 years of age being selected. The following data were obtained: height, weight, skin fold of the biceps and triceps, subscapular and abdominal and arm perimeter. Calculation of the weight/height, weight/height, weight/height, sum of two and four folds, mid-arm muscle circunference, area fo the arm, muscle area of the arm, adipose area of the arm and muscle adipose index was performed.
Results: The tables of the percentiles 1, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, and 99 of the anthropometric parameters according to sex and age are presented. Significant differences were found among the age groups for the fat parameters which were greater from the third decade for the fold of the fat of the trunk in males and from the fourth decade of the fat parameters of the trunk and extremities of females. The muscle parameters successively increased in both sexes and for each age group up to the fourth decade and thereafter remained stable.
Conclusions: The values of the anthropometric parameters may be used as standard patterns of the working population in Catalonia. The differences between sexes and age groups, such as with the values of the Catalan population previously referred and those of the American population, indicate that the anthropometric measurements of body composition must be periodically determined to ensure adequate standards of each population.