Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015
Key words: schoolchildren, physical development, anthropometric and functional features, Minsk, Belarus, 21st century.
In the course of research, the morphological and functional fea-tures of more than 1,100 students from Minsk were examined in order to monitor their physical development. Data were collected in two complex studies, the first in the academic years 1999/2000, and the second in 2012/2013. Three age groups of children and adolescents (8, 13 and 17-year-olds) were examined. The total number of students being 1,162. This complex anthropological research program included the monitoring of longitudinal, latitudinal and circumferential sizes of the body and head, the weight of the body, and the thickness of fat folds, etc. Functional feature indicators for blood pressure, pulse rate, and hand dynamometry were also examined together with one other most informative index – adaptational potential.
A comparison was carried out between the morphological and functional features observed in the Minsk students in 1999/2000 and in 2012/2013. This revealed subsequent signs of physical growth that reached statistically significant levels. Significant improvement was evident in the values of physical development in schoolchildren monitored in 2012/2013 relative to those monitored in 1999/2000. An increase in body length, in 8 and 13-year-olds, and body weight and chest circumference, in the children and teenagers of all the studied age groups, testified to an acceleration of growth processes. The character of changes in the functional parameters of the Minsk students included signs of optimization of the cardiovascular system, plus positive dynamics in adaptational potential, and a tendency towards increased hand force.
In 1999/2000 the students’ physical development was subjected to difficult environmental conditions (it was soon after the Chernobyl accident) in the context of low socio-economic well-being (during the collapse of the Soviet Union), which clearly had negative impacts on the morphofunctional status of the younger generation.
Later, in 2012/2013, amid positive changes in the country, the indicators of physical development in the schoolchildren of Minsk considerably improved.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History, The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk, Belarus.