Skeletal proportions and metabolic disorders in adults

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997 Dec;51(12):804-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600479.


Objective: The present study investigated the associations of stature, lower leg length (LLL) and demi-arm span (demi-AS) with major predisposing cardiovascular risk factors and coronary heart disease.

Study design and subjects: Cross-sectional study set at Glasgow Royal Infirmary of a subsample of 543 men and 646 women aged 25-66 y from the random MONICA sample. ASSOCIATED MEASURES: LLL, demi-AS, blood pressure, plasma total cholesterol, diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease (angina, angioplasty, heart attack, and coronary artery bypass graft).

Results: The numbers (and proportions) of men and women, respectively, with hypertension were 126 (23.6%) and 80 (14.0%), hypercholesterolaemia 155 (29.0%) and 171 (30.1%), coronary heart disease 53 (10.1%) and 47 (8.4%), and diabetes 15 (2.9%) and 9 (1.6%). Results were adjusted for age, social class and smoking. Analysis of variance showed that in men, shortness of height, LLL or demi-AS were all associated significantly (P < 0.05) with hypercholesterolaemia. Long LLL, high ratios of LLL:height or LLL:demi-As were associated significantly (P < 0.05) with diabetes mellitus. In women, shortness of height or LLL were associated with significantly (P < 0.05) with coronary heart disease. High ratio of demi-AS:height or low ratio of LLL:demi-AS was associated significantly (P < 0.05) with coronary heart disease.

Conclusions: Short stature and limb lengths, and also altered skeletal proportions, which may reflect interrupted early growth, are associated with several metabolic disorders. Skeletal disproportion associates with diabetes in men and coronary heart disease in women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arm / anatomy & histology*
  • Body Height*
  • Bone Development*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / etiology
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Leg / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Social Class