Anthropometrical evaluation of elderly blacks in the Orange Free State

  • F.C.J. Bester Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Orange Free State
  • D.J.V. Weich Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Orange Free State


The anthropometry of elderly blacks (65+ years) was investigated in order to provide a set of values for future reference and comparison with known studies. Four hundred blacks aged 65 years and older were randomly selected from ten towns in the Orange Free State and admitted to the study after informed consent had been obtained from them. The subjects' height, weight, upper-arm circumference and skinfolds (triceps, biceps, supra iliac and subscapular) were measured. Body mass index and hone-free upper-arm muscle area were calculated. It appears that South African elderly blacks are shorter in stature and the males are leaner than persons in the same age group in developed countries. Elderly black females in South Africa appear to be heavier than their male counterparts, and compare well with groups of elderly females in other studies. The findings suggest that sets of reference values derived from studies in developed countries are not applicable to the South African black elderly population.


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