Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015
Key words: rural Belarusians, urban population, body length, body mass, chest circumference, body mass index.
An analysis of the physical development of the adult population of Belarus was carried out on the basis of existing anthropometric data on two groups of inhabitants: Belarusians living in rural areas (4,660 people studied in 1970-1986), and a mixed national population of the most urbanized industrial city of the country– Minsk (1,182 people studied in 1996-1997). All material was integrated into age and gender cohorts with 10-year intervals. A comparison of rural and urban cohorts of the same gender and age has shown that urban citizens differed from their rural counterparts by having greater values for body length and lower values for body mass and chest circumference. Moreover, with regard to the younger generation, one is more likely to observe a greater difference in body length and chest circumference, with increased values, compared to the older generation. This fact would seem to indicate a more intense process of acceleration combined with leptosomization of the body among the urban population. Average body mass index (BMI) values were seen to increase regularly with age, and values were greater in all age cohorts of the rural population compared to urban ones. Scales for rating BMI (by calculating low, average, and high values) were devised for each age and gender cohort of the rural and urban populations, taking into account signal deviations. The use of these scales allowed us to establish the main tendency for an increased frequency of high BMI values with a reduction in low and average values among both genders. The maximum increase in the frequency of high BMI values was observed at the onset of the reduction of hormonal activities in the female body (40-49 years), and the frequency of low BMI values reduced significantly among females. After 50 years, relative stability was noted in the distribution of the frequencies of three BMI values with minor differences between genders. Differences in the percentage distribution of BMI values between urban and rural samples were observed only in females, and low values of BMI were more common in females from urban areas.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History,
The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus,