Indices of relative weight and obesity
[INTRODUCTION THE NEED for an index of relative body weight was recognized from the beginning of anthropometry, that is to say as soon as serious attention was given to the dimensions of the body and their biological and medical implications. Body weight in proportion to height or to some function of height is interesting because it should indicate something about ‘build’ or shape and about obesity or fatness. Various indices of relative weight have been espoused and applied for many years but as yet there is no agreement on any particular index. In part this reflects confusion -or at least lack of agreement-about what a relative weight index should represent and mean; in part the reason is a lack of “calibrating” data and of systematic examination of wide-ranging samples of data analyzed in parallel. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comparison of various indices of relative weight as applied to data on weight, height and body fatness of men in several countries in Europe, in Japan, men in South Africa, as well as of white men in the United States. In the present paper guidance in the analysis was provided by two assumptions. First, it is assumed that a major reason for the use of a relative weight index is to remove the dependency of weight on height. Second, it is assumed that in the selection of an index attention should be given to the degree to which the index may indicate relative obesity or body fatness.