Meaning of Anthropometry

Before entering fully into the clarification of the meaning of the term anthropometry, we must know its etymological origin. In this case we can say that it is a word that derives from the Greek. Exactly is the result of the union of three clearly defined components:
-The noun “anthropos”, which can be translated as “man”.
-The name “métron”, which is equivalent to “measure”.
-The suffix “-ia”, which is used to indicate “quality”.

It called anthropometry to the analysis of body measurements and proportions of the human being. This branch of the so-called biological anthropology aims to detail the differences between the races and to specify the physical modifications that our species underwent over time.

In order to know the body composition, anthropometric experts carry out their measurements using a method that is non-invasive and, in addition, is very simple. Specifically, they measure aspects such as basic issues such as weight, height or wingspan.

However, in addition to everything indicated, they also perform bone diameter measurements (humeral, femoral, biachromial…), perimeters (head, neck, hips, calf…), lengths (trochanteric, foot, acromio-radial, iliospinal…) or skin folds (calf, biceps, abdominal, triceps…).

It is important to note that the characteristics of the human body do not remain unchanged. In fact, human beings of the 21st century are very different, physically, than the people who lived in the 1st century, for example. This is due to changes in habits, ethnic composition and other issues that modify the dimensions of the body.

We can appreciate the anthropometric changes by analyzing what happens with obesity. In the United States and in other countries, modifications have been developed in diet: today people eat junk food that favors the development of overweight. In this way, anthropometry has shown how the body measurements of Americans have changed in recent decades as a result of this unhealthy diet.

In addition to all the above, we can establish another series of relevant data about anthropometry, among which the following stand out:
-It is a discipline that has its origin in the eighteenth century.
-It is considered that the first time that it was spoken of as such was in the year 1870. It was in the work entitled “Anthropométrie” by a Belgian mathematician named Quételet (1796 – 1874).
-It was from the year 1940 when anthropometry became much more relevant and a priority in areas such as aeronautics.
-An element that is essential in the origins of anthropometry is the drawing made by Leonardo da Vinci and which responds to the name “Vitruvian Man”.

Anthropometry is also very important in different branches of design. An office furniture manufacturer, to cite a case, needs to appeal to anthropometric data to design its products. Even apparel designers need to consider average body measurements to determine clothing sizes.

When anthropometry studies are applied to sports performance, we speak of kinenthropometry. Its objective is to optimize the development of activities based on anthropometric techniques.


About the author